The parent company of Omega Cabinetry in Clinton, Tenn., announced Tuesday that the plant will be shut down by month's end and production will be moved to Iowa.

The parent company of Omega Cabinetry in Clinton, Tenn., announced Tuesday that the plant will be shut down by month's end and production will be moved to Iowa.

The plant employs 165 employees, according to Stacie Gilles, manager of corporate communications for MasterBrand Cabinets Inc. The Jasper, Ind.-based business is the parent company of Omega Cabinetry.

Gilles said all employees will continue to receive their pay and benefits for at least 60 days. She said she could not speculate on how many employees might be offered jobs at other MasterBrand facilities because it would depend on each employee's situation.

The company has also hired Lee Hecht Harrison, a Woodcliff, N.J.-based outplacement firm, to help the employees in the "transition into new employment opportunities," according to Gilles and information from the MasterBrand news release.

Gilles said she could not say exactly when the plant's doors would close, only that it would happen by the end of the month.

MasterBrand Cabinets is "realigning its manufacturing operations for semi-custom cabinetry to adjust capacity with challenging marketing conditions," according to the company news release. The end of production in Clinton will lead to the production work being sent to the company's plant in Waterloo, Iowa.

"We understand the impact this difficult decision has on our employees and should in no way negatively reflect upon their performance," Greg Stoner, MasterBrand Cabinets Inc. president, is quoted as saying in the news release.

"Like other home products manufacturers, MBCI continues to be challenged by a significant downturn in the construction of new homes, as well as consumer remodeling projects," Stoner stated. He said the decisions affecting the Clinton and Iowa plants are a way to "increase production when market conditions improve."

Omega Cabinetry purchased the plant, located between the Lake City and Clinton city limits, in 2004 from HomeCrest Cabinetry. The purchase was seen as a godsend by employees, government and business officials throughout Anderson County and the state. In December 2003, Omega announced it would be taking over the HomeCrest plant by the end of January 2004 and eventually adding 450 more employees to the plant's workforce, which was then 150. At that time, they also said they expected to expand the 200,000-square-foot facility to 300,000-square-feet.

Omega received about $3 million in state and local funds as an incentive for Omega to purchase HomeCrest and continue operating in Anderson County. Part of that included extending a sewer line to the plant, which then had a faulty septic tank system.

Donna Smith of the Oak Ridger can be contacted at (865) 220-5502 or at donna.smith@oakridger.com