Tahlequah Plant Suspends Production

Tuesday, March 31st 2009, 2:23 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, OK -- The economy in crisis claims another 100 Oklahoma jobs.  A Tahlequah cabinet maker is suspending operations and laying off its entire workforce.    

A slumping housing market has dragged down demand for new cabinets.  So, American Woodmark is cutting back.  That means shuttering its seven-year-old Tahlequah plant.

"In this economy everybody is worried about their employers in a community. But no, you always hope this doesn't happen in your local community, but it has, though," said Tahlequah Mayor Ken Purdy.

The slowdown started six months ago, when American Woodmark laid off a third of its Tahlequah employees.  But, workers and city leaders were hoping the market and the plant would bounce back.

10/24/2008 Related story: Economy Impacting Tahlequah Business

American Woodmark will close its Tahlequah doors by July 1st, but maybe not for good. The mayor says there might be a silver lining to this dark economic cloud.

"The corporation intends to mothball the facility and when the economy rebounds bring it back into production," said Tahlequah Mayor Ken Purdy.

And, not all of Tahlequah's employers are shrinking.  Just down the street from the cabinet plant, Dollar Thrifty is hiring.  And, the Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce leaders say Tahlequah's economy is anchored by Northeastern State University and the Cherokee Nation.

"Tahlequah is well insulated. However when you lose one job or 100, you know we're still a small enough community that they're our friends and neighbors and it will affect Tahlequah. But we will bounce back from this," said David Moore with the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce.

The City of Tahlequah pledges to work with the American Woodmark employees, who will soon be out of a job.