Recently married and discharged from the military, in 1966 Gronlund was looking for a job when his father, an owner in Wood-Mode, passed away. “I was somewhat familiar with the business so I committed to my siblings that I would step into the breach and [recommend] how we might proceed,” he says.
At the time, cabinet trends were transitioning from steel to wood, making Wood-Mode a viable player in the industry. “As time evolved, this piqued my interest and curiosity, and I found myself making a commitment to continue our family’s representation as a primary equity owner of Wood-Mode.”
In 1998, Gronlund bought out the shareholders for sole ownership. His son Brooks is president and COO.
Under Gronlund’s leadership the Kreamer, PA-based Wood-Mode has become one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of custom and semi-custom cabinetry; its semi-custom Brookhaven Cabinetry line was introduced in 1990. Wood-Mode was also one of the first U.S. manufacturers to produce frameless cabinetry, hiring German engineer Hermann Lechner in 1982 to aid in the design, engineering and manufacture of the product.
A sustainable manufacturer, Wood-Mode also was one of the first to install RTO technology and helped develop the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn. Environmental Stewardship Program. Wood-Mode was a founding member of the association and Gronlund has long been active in the KCMA, serving on the board of directors and as the current president.
Gronlund’s commitment to customers, the community and the industry, has earned him recognition as a 2012 Wood Industry Market Leader by Wood & Wood Products magazine. It also earned him the 2005 Jerry Metz Achievement Award, also issued by Wood & Wood Products.
With a business mantra of “satisfy the customer,” Gronlund says, “Our primary goal for the next five years is to continue to partner and support our dealer network and to accommodate their needs, solicit business from new dealers as needed, [stay] current with our product offerings, and with our quality and customer service”
Between work, community service and other commitments, free time is limited. However, Gronlund relaxes by spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren, and attending their events. “I also like to travel to ‘bucket list’ type places,” he says of a recent trip with his wife to China.
• Education: BS Economics and an Honorary Doctorate from Ohio Northern University
• Years at the company: 48
• Years in the industry: 48
• Word that best describes you: Engaging
• The best advice received: Listen — to your employees, customers, vendors and any of your professional advisors. Ultimately the final decision is made at the top, but that decision should have the benefit of what you have learned by listening.
• The persons you have tried to emulate in business: For macro, Paul Volcker, and for business, Alan Mulally of Ford Motor Co.
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