Governor talks jobs at cabinetry designer
KREAMER — Gov. Tom Wolf toured the Wood-Mode factory as part of a larger tour to highlight job training at state manufacturers as part of a Work Development Initiative.
He also visited with Robert Gronlund, owner and CEO of Wood-Mode, and Brooks Gronlund, president and chief operating officer of Wood-Mode.
Wood-Mode is Snyder County’s largest employer and celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.
Wolf, a previous owner of a kitchen cabinet design firm, was familiar with this type of business.
“Since this is the kind of thing I have a background in, I was really interested in touring, seeing how they do things,” Wolf said. “As someone that was in the kitchen cabinet business, I was interested to see how former competitor, a very good company and one of the top in the industry, actually does things. It’s really interesting to see that.”
He said he also wanted to keep this type of business in mind on a bigger level.
“I’m always interested in understanding how the state could support good companies like Wood-Mode to help make sure people come to Wood-Mode with the skills they need, that we have institutions that support mechanisms to actually help continually upgrade those skills,” he said.
Wolf said it was important to make sure jobs like this were available for people to provide for their families and be successful.
“If we can help them succeed … We’re going to help the people of Pennsylvania succeed,” he said.
He said that of the people he spoke to during his visit, the youngest person at the company was there for 14 years and many had worked there for their whole lives.
“They have very high rates,” Wolf said. “The state does make grants for internal training … I think it’s part of what we all need to do to have everything in the environment for companies like Wood-Mode to take advantage.”
Keeping employees, training them to be better at their jobs and staying at a business helps make the business strong.
“Continuous education. There can be courses at high schools that prepare students for a place like Wood-Mode,” he said. “I’m looking for ways to make sure that education at all stages is relevant to the needs of the economy, which is always changing.”
He said three months after a student graduates, the workforce could be different, so it’s important to keep up with employment needs to get jobs.
For him, one of the challenges when he was running a business was employee retention.
“I’m sure they do a lot of things here (at Wood-Mode) to make employees feel valued here,” he said. “They are valued. You see the product that comes out of here … People actually making the product, they’re so important.”