MasterBrand cites ‘market shift’ for Alabama closure

By OLIVIA INGLE
oingle@dcherald.com

JASPER — A spokesperson with MasterBrand Cabinets, based in Jasper, says the closure of the company’s Auburn, Alabama, plant that left 445 people jobless Tuesday was due to a market shift.

“The market is good, it’s just that over the last few years, consumers are just purchasing different,” said Emily Small, MasterBrand’s director of public relations. “They’re shifting their expectations, as well as price point ... we just have to pivot our company a bit to balance that capacity.”

All of the Auburn plant’s products will now be produced at the company’s plants in Arthur, Illinois, and Grants Pass, Oregon. The closure will not affect production at MasterBrand’s Dubois County facilities.

MasterBrand has nearly 14,000 employees at 23 plants and distribution centers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Small said that all employees laid off in Auburn will get 60 days of pay, as well as health benefits. Depending on their years of service, they will also get additional severance. The company is also hosting job fairs and each employee is being met with one-on-one this week to discuss their options.

“But also, too, there’s always the option to relocate to one of our other facilities,” Small said. “For instance, here in Ferdinand, we’re hiring. So, if they want to move, they can come up here.”

A search on MasterBrand’s careers website also brings up job openings at the company’s Jasper facility.

Small said employees at other facilities shouldn’t be worried about their jobs, as MasterBrand is “a very healthy company,” and continues to gain market share and grow.

“Employees understand from a sense of, ‘Yeah, we understand that sometimes hard decisions are made,’” Small said. “But as a whole, we’re an extremely strong and healthy company and being No. 1 in the industry, we don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

She said the company is always watching the market and flexing itself to meet the market’s needs.

“You can never 100 percent predict where it’s (the market is) going and coming, but as we’re looking at operation models and so forth, it (the Auburn closure) made sense because we had capacity in our other facilities to take the capacity at Auburn and to be able to sustain and still be able to meet the needs of the market.”

According to an Associated Press story, the Auburn closure “came without any prior public notice and was announced to employees at 10 a.m.” Tuesday.

The city’s mayor, Bill Ham, was quoted saying: “Everybody at the city of Auburn was totally taken by surprise. I had no idea. I don’t know of anybody in the city that had any idea this was coming.”

Small said there are different ways a company can implement a closure and MasterBrand officials felt that closing without a ramp down was the best option.

“We felt like this was the best option for our associates to be able to still receive their pay and benefits but then still also have the opportunity to seek new employment,” Small said.

She added that decisions like the Auburn closure are not taken lightly.

“Unfortunately, we just had to recalibrate our capacity,” she said. “We want people to know we’re a very strong, healthy company and we continue to grow and hire at other locations. We just had to reposition a little bit based on our operations footprint.”




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