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Amherst Woodworking & Supply to close shop in Northampton, 30 people to lose jobs

Owner David Short said a lengthy recession battered his architectural woodworking business to the point that he can no longer keep it afloat. He informed the company’s 30 employees of plans to wind down operations over the next several weeks before closing May 17.

Short said Amherst Woodworking’s retail division, Copper Beech Millwork, will also close, though there is a small chance that part of the business will be sold.

“I’ve been losing money for four years; at some point it’s got to stop,” Short said. He said a weak economy has caused a hardship for nearly everyone in the building trades.

The announcement comes almost 38 years after Short founded the company and operated on his own out of a small space in North Amherst. The company moved to Northampton and expanded over the years to serve architects, builders and homeowners throughout the Valley.

At its peak in the late 1990s, Amherst Woodworking employed more than 50 people and pulled in more than $7 million in gross revenue. Short said that figure had dropped to $5.5 million at the start of the recession and has continued to slide in each of the last four years. The number of employees also declined from 44 two years ago to 30 today.

The company, at 30 Industrial Drive in the Northampton Industrial Park, has struggled with the peaks and valleys caused mainly by the recession. Short said there were times over the last four years when business was strong, but work would dry up for lengthy periods. That led to layoffs and a reduction in hours.

“It’s too bad,” Short said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. Right now it’s a combination of being sad and being relieved.”

Short said the company will honor its existing contracts and close without leaving debts behind. He will put the 33,000-square-foot facility up for sale or lease it to another business. “This is not forced; this is voluntary,” he said.

Short said some employees have already found other jobs, while others intend to finish with the company and take a few weeks off before deciding what to do next. As for Short, he will “essentially retire.”

“I have a lot of things I’d like to do,” he said.

Amherst Woodworking for years has made and installed woodwork for academic and other institutions, homes and historic restoration projects throughout New England and eastern New York.

Copper Beech Millwork makes and sells lumber products, such as flooring and decking, and architectural woodworking components such as moldings, doors and stair parts.

Short founded the company in 1975 making custom furniture for local clients and selling small quantities of hardwood lumber from a small space in North Amherst. Two years later, the company expanded its space and introduced architectural woodworking.

The company moved to Northampton in 1980 by acquiring a large woodworking shop that enabled it to grow by 30 percent a year throughout the 1980s. The company moved to its present location in the industrial park about 19 years ago.

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