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USGNN Original StoryTru Tech Re-Opens Former Therma-Tru Plant
July 9, 2009

Door manufacturers who may have thought they would pick up business when Therma-Tru announced late last year that it would close its Fredericksburg, Va., facility, will now face new competition—from Canada's Tru Tech Doors.

The manufacturer, based in Ontario, wanted to expand into the United States, so it purchased the Therma-Tru plant and held a grand opening event yesterday. The new location will produce doors for light commercial and residential applications.

Tru Tech president, John Careri (center left), cuts the ribbon during the company's Fredericksburg, Va., grand opening event July 8.

Tru Tech officials say they can't figure out why the plant closed in the first place and cite the company's seasoned employees and ideal East Coast location as its keys to success.

"It didn't make sense why this facility was closing," said Tru Tech president John Careri.

And of course the employees who work there are thrilled to be back to work.

Patty Hayes, a 12-year employee said, "We were hoping someone would buy it. It's a great facility."

The purchase did, however, come at almost the eleventh hour.

Sam Collister, general manager for TruTech, came to the facility four days before it was set to close looking to buy the equipment. But when he saw the dedicated employees and impressive facility he changed his mind and thought the company should purchase the plant instead.

Collister was so impressed that he convinced TruTech president John Careri to travel to Fredericksburg to see the plant first hand and Careri was convinced as well.

"John said, 'In two days they're closing this? Why?,'" recalled Collister.

That's exactly what Therma-Tru plant manager Ernie Hinegardner thought so he was happy with the news.

But he was so confident in his facility and the employees that when he heard Collister was coming, he said, "This could be our chance."

According to Hinegardner, the average seniority at the facility is 19 years.

"Not many companies can say that," he said.

"We were able to hire an experienced team," added Collister.

Not all employees have come back to work but the company, and Spotsylvania County, where the plant is located, is hoping for much more.

"We hope you reach that 200-some job plateau as quickly as possible," said Jerry Logan, a member of the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors.

The Fredericksburg location is a great one, but Collister admits that Tru Tech officials were looking in the New England area as a possible location for the first U.S. plant.

"It wasn't the exact area we were looking for, but when you are able to hire an experienced management team and factory employees, it's a great opportunity," Collister said.

Also working in the company's favor was the type of doors produced at Therma-Tru—steel-edged doors.

"Initially we were looking for machines to produce a steel-edged product in Canada," said Careri. "The steel-edged door market was a niche we were looking to fill …. So that [the fact that these were produced here] was the icing on the cake."

The Virginia facility also will distribute Tru Tech's wood-edged doors. Collister adds that TruTech "is going to be very aggressive in the market."

But is that enough to make the company successful here? Careri says it is.

"We cater to the customer. We listen to the customer. We cater the program that works for them. We've spent a lot of time developing new niche products that will fit into their marketplace," he said.

And, again it comes back to the employees.

"The people here have something to prove," he added. "I trust in them and they trust in me and we will be successful."

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