Archon Woodworks in Wood Lake shuts down

Wood products plant employed about 60, former employee said

=WOOD LAKE — The past month has been a rough one for the community of Wood Lake and especially for the employees of Archon Woodworks, Inc., one of the largest businesses in the town of 439 residents.

Between 50 and 60 employees were reportedly out of jobs at the Wood Lake facility after the company, which also operates a sister business in Omaha, Nebraska, abruptly ceased all production. Attempts to reach company representatives in Wood Lake and Omaha by phone on Thursday were unsuccessful and there was no sign of production activity at the Wood Lake facility.

“It’s really sad,” former inside sales representative Kathy Knapper said of Archon in Wood Lake. “We had between 50 and 60 employees most of the time. One lady has worked there for 30 years, and there were some others who were getting close to retirement, at least within five years or so. Now, there’s nothing left in town but an elevator, a gas station and a bar.”

Formerly Hoffco — founded in Wood Lake in 1983 with only three employees — Archon Woodworks had increased its manufacturing of quality wood products over time. In 2005, the acquisition of Valley Oak Cabinet Doors added another element to the diverse wood product manufacturing business.

“(Archon) started off as Hoffco and the founder (Dave Hoff) came in to see the company shortly before the roof collapsed in mid-February,” Knapper said. “There seemed to be some financial trouble for the company in the past year or so, but for the most part, everything had been going well. But then it went downhill fast.”

Heavy snowfall caused a major section of the roof to collapse on Feb. 21, at Archon Woodworks’ manufacturing facility in Wood Lake. As a result, all production was halted.

“After part of the roof collapsed, we were closed for three days,” Knapper said. “We got everything cleaned up and ready to do partial production the next week. We worked on the following Monday, but then they said no one was allowed in the building because of a gas leak. (Eventually) that turned into it closing completely. We were told we were done on March 20.”

While employees were left in limbo for quite some time, the situation was made worse because of the financial chaos that also ensued.

“I’ve been without a paycheck for a month,” Knapper said.