Algoma Hardwoods to close, affecting 180 employees

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ALGOMA, Wis. (WBAY) – A manufacturing company that has employed workers in the city of Algoma for decades is set to close next year.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development said Masonite International Corporation is closing the Algoma Hardwoods, 1001 Perry St., on Aug. 31, 2017, affecting 180 employees.

In a city of about 3,100 people it doesn’t take long for word to spread that the Algoma Hardwoods is closing.

“In the middle of the afternoon, I receive an email stating that they have decided to close this plant,” said Algoma Mayor Wayne Schmidt.

It also doesn’t take long to realize that about 180 people, friends and neighbors, will be laid off by next August, many who have worked there for decades.

“It’s a very well-seasoned workforce and a very dedicated workforce. There’s nothing these people wouldn’t do for Masonite to make them profitable, not a thing,” said Greg Coenen, representative for Algoma Hardwoods employees. “Unfortunately in the world we live in today it’s not about the good people. It’s about corporations making a big profit.”

According to a company earnings presentation, the move is expected to save Masonite about $5 million annually. It’s part of Masonite’s plan to transform its architectural business.

Masonite International Corporation acquired Algoma Hardwoods in 2012. The company, which produces and distributes wood doors, has been in the area for more than 60 years, according to its website.

“Masonite is not a bad corporation to work for but bottom line when you are owned by stockholders that’s what happens. Everybody needs to generate a profit,” said Coenen.

Mayor Schmidt said local businesses need to make a profit too and this closure will impact them as well.

“It’s the other companies that work together with the Algoma Hardwoods like the Lumber Company who supplies some of the stuff and CTI who buys products from the hardwoods that they use in manufacturing their product. It’s a trickle down effect,” said Schmidt.

Being in a small city word does travel fast, but so too does the help and encouragement to continue moving forward.

“Algoma will pull together. They will pull themselves up by the bootstraps and we will get through this like we’ve gotten through other things,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt said he is setting up a meeting with the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation for November 15 to lay out a strategy to help those laid off.

The Bay Area Workforce Development Area Rapid Response Team will offer services to the company, employee representatives and affected workers.

Coenen said on behalf of the workers, he will work with Masonite and try to get a severance agreement for all the employees laid off.