July 17th, 2008
A Little History Lesson on Fredericksburg, Va.; and a Little Lamenting for the Decisions Company Executives Have to Make
You may not know that our offices in Stafford, Va., are just 15 minutes from historic Fredericksburg, Va. Our little city received some national attention recently when the L.A. Times (click here for the full article) reported that archaeologists found what is believed to be the boyhood home of George Washington. The house in Stafford County, Va., on a property now known as Ferry Farm, is on the banks of the Rappahannock River across from Fredericksburg.
While George Washington made his home there more than 250 years ago, a few door and window manufacturers also view the city as an ideal location to “live” (that is, to make and ship their products).
Five years ago, when Milgard (known in the West) decided to expand its business Eastward, it chose Fredericksburg as the site of its new plant. Soon after they moved in, I stopped by for a tour (click here for that article).
Recently, I visited Therma-Tru’s facility in Fredericksburg for a tour (look for that article in a future issue). According to Bob Keller, vice president of manufacturing for the company, the plant is strategically located to its Lowe’s customers, most of which are located East of the Mississippi. In fact, the company closed its Houston plant recently as it made more sense to service this Lowe’s business solely from Fredericksburg.
In the case of these two well-known door and window manufacturers, location truly is key. Whether it’s opening a new plant in the case of Milgard or closing one in the case of Therma-Tru, decisions truly have to be made, taking many things into consideration. In the case of Therma-Tru, company officials no doubt weighed the fact that jobs would sadly be lost in Houston, but maybe were heartened by the fact that jobs were gained in Fredericksburg.
DWM magazine has reported frequently in the past year or so about plants that closed. Yes, I’m sure many of these closed due to the simple fact that the housing market is way down. These plants may have been created at the height of the housing boom, but recently had to be closed when production of door and window units reduced dramatically.
I’ve written some of these stories and edited others, and I’ll admit that most of the time I didn’t think of the executives who had to wrestle with these decisions, who had to struggle with the right thing to do to make sure their companies survived, even though feelings may be hurt and jobs lost.
So here’s to all those company executives who have to make the tough decisions on a daily basis, whether it’s in a small town like Fredericksburg or the one near where you work or do business.