"Masco's devastating news may have shaken this community, but we're going to fight to keep these jobs right here in Pike County," said Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in late April, shortly after Masco announced it planned to shut down Mill's Pride's operations by early 2011 and ultimately lay off more than 1,200 workers. "We are working aggressively with the local community to find a company that will be interested in continuing to employ the hard-working men and women who have built their lives around this facility." (Posted 9-25-10)
Immediately after I read about Gov. Strickland's pledge to find a buyer for Mill's Pride's, I contacted his office and extended an invitation for him or a delegate to submit a guest blog. I suggested that our audience of professional woodworkers and industry suppliers could include potential suitors and that they would be interested in learning about the benefits and opportunities afforded to manufacturing employers in the county and the state.
A representative of the Ohio Department of Development got back to me right away and said her office would like to take me up on my offer. We discussed the parameters of the guest blog and time frame for posting it. Then, inspite of leaving a pair of friendly reminder voice messages, I never heard from her again.
Perhaps she felt that there was no need to get back to me because by early July reports were circulating that up to three parties had expressed interest in purchasing Mill's Pride.
No doubt, Gov. Strickland's declaration to stop-at-no-end to find a buyer coupled with the reports that negotiations were acutally taking place, gave some Mill's Pride employees hope that their livelihoods might be saved.
Those hopes apparently were dashed in a memo Masco issued to employees last week stating that negotiations had broke off and it was proceeding ahead with "ramping down" operations, with final shut down of Mill's Pride to take place in the second or third quarter of 2011.
Tough Times, Tough Decisions
The decision to close Mill's Pride is the latest in a series of difficult downsizing moves undertaken by Masco Cabinetry since the housing and cabinet markets turned south. Masco Cabinetry, which includes Merillat, KraftMaid and Quality Cabinets, has seen its cabinet sales decline from $3.3 billion in 2005 to $1.7 billion in 2009.
In December 2008, Masco's Kraftmaid division closed its state-of-the-art cabinet manufacturing facility in Jordan, UT, putting more than 800 people out of work. The plant, developed to the the tune of $106 million, had opened less than two years earlier.
In September 2009, Merillat closed its 25-year-old particleboard plant in Rapid City, SD. This came on the heals of shutting down the original Merillat cabinet manufacturing plant in Adrian, MI, costing 330 employees their jobs.
Now comes the intended end to Mill's Pride, which Masco purchased in 1999.
I pay special attention because I had the honor and pleasure of visiting and writing two cover stories about Mill's Pride in 2000 and 2008. It was far and away the most impressive cabinet plant I had ever visited, both in physical gerth and level of technology being utilized, as evidenced by the two dozen feed-through cut-band-and-bore lines.
While my heart goes out to the employees of Mill's Pride, I don't begrudge Masco for having to do what it feels it must to position itself for the future.
Rest assured, I will be paying close attention to how that future plays out.
READ MORE MILL'S PRIDE COVERAGE
Corporate memo bears bad news for Mill's Pride employees
Ohio still seeking buyer for Mill's Pride facilities (Posted 9-14-10)
Report: Three parties interested in Mill's Pride (Posted 7-9-10)
Ohio offers aid to 1,400 Mill's Pride workers (Posted 5-28-10)
Ohio governor seeks buyer for Mill's Pride plants (Posted 4-30-10)
Blog: End of the Line for the 'Pride' of Waverly? (Posted 4-28-10)
Masco to close RTA plant in Waverly, OH (Posted 4-27-10)
Editorial: Mill's Pride Eight Years Later & Case Study: Mill's Pride's Rapid Rise (Posted 4-12-98)
Mill's Pride in the Beginning: Editorial - How's This for Openers (Published in Wood & Wood Products, March 1990)
Mill's Pride in the Beginnining: Case Study - Mill's Pride Steps Boldly into RTA Cabinet Market(Published in Wood & Wood Products, March 1990)
Read more of Rich Christianson's blogs.
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