KraftMaid to close plant 2 days before Christmas


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A major Utah employer made it official today: it will close up shop after less than three years in the state. More than 800 workers at KraftMaid Cabinetry in West Jordan will lose their jobs two days before Christmas.

In 2005, new construction and remodeling created demand for KraftMaid, so parent company Masco built an 840,000-square-foot plant and opened it in April 2006.

KraftMaid to close plant 2 days before Christmas

A worker we talked to, who did not want to be identified, was there at the start. "I had a lot of plans to be here and to make a good career of this. I've really enjoyed working here for two years, so it's tough," he said.

The company planned to hire 1,300 people as the business grew. The state offered incentives up to $3.2 million over 10 years but has shelled out less than $15,000 to the company.

Masco president Mike Newton said in a news release: "The unprecedented decline in the new construction and remodeling markets has forced us to take this very difficult action."

Thomas Walton, like all of his co-workers, was given a memo just after his shift began this morning. It put in writing what he had already been told in a meeting. "Basically, they called us all in and said, you know, because of the economy, they're shutting this plant down," he said.

The company owns other manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio. "We put a lot of our heart and soul into this place. So, to hear it's closing down is sad," the unidentified employee said.

The state employment office says this is the biggest single job cut in Utah this year.

KraftMaid to close plant 2 days before Christmas

Some West Jordan workers who spoke with us say they don't blame the company. Becky Reed came here from Ohio. "I can see their point, because I'm gonna buy groceries before I buy cabinets. So, I mean, cabinets is not going to be my priority over my children," she said.

On the plus side, Oracle Corporation broke ground on a new plant in West Jordan six weeks ago, a the Governor's Office of Economic Development tells us it is negotiating to lure an aerospace company to Utah, which would bring more than 900 jobs.

"We're not the only place laying off, so competition is pretty tough out there. I'd like to find something as soon as I can," the unidentified employee said.

Employees get pay and benefits through the first week of February. The company and the state have offered to help workers look for new jobs.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com
E-mail: mgiauque@ksl.com

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Jed Boal and Marc Giauque

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