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Keener Kitchen closes

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A Red Lion custom cabinetmaker that had been in business for 40 years has closed its doors, citing the impact from the economic downturn and increased competition from national chains.

Keener Kitchen Manufacturing Co., which made cabinets for residential use and did casework for commercial use, closed April 30, according to a letter from CEO Steve Keener that was posted on the front door of the business’s Boundary Avenue showroom.

It is not clear how many employees are affected or what will happen to the company’s inventory or showroom in Timonium, Md. The letter referred questions to attorney Lawrence Young with CGA Law Firm in York.

Young did not return a call for comment this morning.

In his letter, Keener states the recession hurt home building during the past six years, in turn hurting his business. And while that has led some people to remodel their kitchens, they have not used his services.

"They make the choice to use inexpensive home center cabinets instead of quality custom cabinets," Keener wrote. "For 40 years, we’ve assembled a team of artisans, people who craft not only with their hands, but with their hearts."

He said that, because the custom cabinet industry was shrinking in York County, many of his employees would be forced to find jobs outside their vocation.

"Quality design, installation and cabinetry will become a rare commodity to find in York County," Keener wrote.

While not able to speak directly to Keener’s situation, David Rothermel, president and owner of StyleCraft Cabinets in Terre Hill, Lancaster County, said the recession and increased competition have made things tough.

“There’s been some shrinkage in the industry. No question,” said Rothermel, who is also past president of the Kitchen Cabinet Makers Association. “From 2008 through now, it’s been a tough go. There’s no question the market shrank and shrank dramatically.”

As for the future, though, Rothermel said there are still people out there willing to pay for custom cabinetry, and that market is growing. A lot depends on the housing market; people would be willing to invest $50,000 in a kitchen if they knew they would be getting their money back on a sale down the road.

“The challenge going forward is that we’re going to grow up and get better,” he said. “And we just have to hope that the people who used to work in the industry are still around so we can bring them back to work.”

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