FREEBURG – William Penn Cabinetry is ramping up production and will be hiring 150 employees sooner than expected thanks to a $500,000 loan from SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG).
With the SEDA-COG EDA COVID-19 loan, owner Maurice Brubaker expects to hire the employees over the next several months. They currently have 30 employees at their 401 E. Front St. plant.
“This loan allows us to get the company the resources it needs to further ramp up our production much more quickly than our original estimate of a year. If it wasn’t for this loan, we wouldn’t be able to hire people as fast,” Brubaker said.
He expects to add a second shift in the next six to eight weeks.
The loan will fund inventory, equipment, rent, payroll, utilities, benefits, payroll taxes, and purchases.
Brubaker said working with SEDA-COG’s staff met an urgent need just when he needed it.
“The SEDA-COG staff understood the need and urgency for this. Everybody really pulled together to facilitate that. The attitude of all the staff was above expectations – they are very friendly and a delight to work with. I would recommend anybody to work with SEDA-COG,” Brubaker said.
Brubaker also is expanding to open a company storefront in the next few months. They currently have a designer who works one-on-one with homeowners in their houses to design their cabinetry products. The regionally located showroom will be owned by the company which Brubaker plans to make “a destination” by hosting wine tastings and special events all while creating a homey feel. Other showrooms will be located throughout the country but independently owned by dealers.
RATHER THAN RETREAT, MARCH FORWARD
Brubaker formed and registered William Penn Cabinetry LLC in July 2019 after he saw the abrupt closure of Wood-Mode. His company started production last March.
“It was hardworking people who lost everything in the blink of an eye. I felt it was our duty to help the community and help these people to get back to work. I think it’s good to have manufacturing in the area and those are normally good-paying jobs with benefits,” Brubaker said. “I understood the trickle-down effect of 900-plus people being out of work and possibly losing homes, not putting food on the table.”
Out of 30 total staff, 15 are former Wood-Mode employees.
He was glad when Wood-Mode reopened and said that this gives the region multiple manufacturing options.
Only days after opening, however, the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard, and the company had to close from March 19 to May 8 last year due to the statewide business shutdown.
“Rather than retreat, we marched forward – we hired a vice president of sales and a sales director. We took this as an opportunity to grow,” he said. “It was to help out the region; it gives manufacturing jobs. We have a benefits package that’s extremely competitive and it’s to help the area.”
While they haven’t been able to scale as they first wanted to, SEDA-COG’s loan helps put them in a better position to do so.
“We do what we have to do to put the employees first,” Brubaker said.
As a professional accountant based in Lewisburg, he has no prior experience in the cabinetry business – but he did apply a wise lesson: “Hire people who are smarter than I am. That’s what we did – hired the best people, and they have a lot of freedom. I trust them implicitly,” Brubaker said.
William Penn Cabinetry manufactures cabinets for residential and commercial businesses. The plant consists of cutting rooms, sanding rooms, finish rooms, assembly rooms and a warehouse.
What sets their company and product apart? “We have a well-made product and very good employees. We’ve all come together to make our company a success,” he said, adding that they also have antibacterial cabinetry that inhibits bacterial growth.
As a community and economic development agency, SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information, visit www.seda-cog.org.