"They came out and told us shut everything off. Turn off the radio. ... 'As of right now, you’re all laid off indefinitely,'" said Michele Sanders, 41, who had worked at the company for two decades immediately after graduating from high school, no college degree required.
“We had about 10 minutes to get our stuff and get out,” said Sanders, a mother of two. Employees drifted out into the parking lot in a daze, under the eye of local law enforcement. “I was in my car with tears flowing out of my eyes. We were all in shock,” she said.
Two days before the struggling factory was to be sold, the buyer had backed out, according to a statement from the plant’s human resources director.
“There had been a slow decline in the profitability of the company, and it finally got to the point where the lender said 'no' and pulled financing,” said Bill French, a businessman who purchased the company's assets in July.
The former owner, Robert Gronlund, and his son and vice president of operations, Brooks Gronlund, didn’t respond to NBC News emails and calls seeking comment. Neither did the primary lender, Great Rock Capital of Connecticut.
The lack of explanation or warning by the Gronlunds came as a shock to all.
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“I had full kitchens being delivered Thursday. They shut down Monday,” said Evan Levey, founder of Columbia Cabinets, a New York-based dealer of Wood-Mode cabinets. “They left a lot of people out in the dust.”
Some of Wood-Mode’s almost 600 nationwide dealers exclusively dealt in Wood-Mode and had to scramble to complete orders with other vendors.
Anxious customers took to asking questions in a Facebook group.
“I have been without a kitchen for 2 months and would love to stay with Wood-Mode but without answers, I am exploring other cupboard companies. Help?” one customer posted.