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Pa. firms 'divorce'

March 12, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - As four former employees of Pennsylvania Modular Homes Inc. looked on Thursday, the company and the owner of the building in which it once made homes concluded what one attorney called a "business divorce."

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At the hearing on a preliminary injunction filed last Friday in Franklin County Court, Pennsylvania Modular agreed to pay back rent to DRI Holding Co. Inc. along with utilities and other bills through the end of March, according to Steve Bresset, the attorney for DRI.

DRI Holding owns the South Main Street building where Pennsylvania Modular Homes was located, according to court records.

In exchange, Pennsylvania Modular will be allowed to remove finished and unfinished modular homes, materials, machinery and other equipment, Bresset said.

Franklin County Area Development Corp. Executive Director L. Michael Ross said Pennsylvania Modular once employed more than 100 workers. He said $80,000 the company owed on a loan from the development corporation had been satisfied earlier in the week.

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"It's hard to define when they closed down because they were moving out as we were still working," said John Crider of Chambersburg. He had been working for Pennsylvania Modular for about a year and a half when the electricity was cut off on Feb. 19.

Crider said the number of employees was down to about 15 during the company's final days of operation.

John Gordon, of St. Thomas, Pa., whose son and brother had also worked for Pennsylvania Modular, said he and other employees had been laid off before the business closed.

"We worked for a couple of weeks without insurance and didn't know it," Crider said. Gordon said he had rescheduled surgery three times and now has no insurance.

Pennsylvania Modular Homes was founded in 1997 from what had been U.S. Housing Corp. The company built the modular homes in a plant at 1080 S. Main St. in Chambersburg.

Bresset said DRI Holding President Allen Dantas was a shareholder in U.S. Housing, which went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings before being purchased by William D. French, the owner of Pennsylvania Modular.

French is moving the inventory to Middleburg, Pa., where he is starting a company with another modular home manufacturer, Bresset said.

Crider, Gordon, his son Derek and brother Leonard said Thursday they want to meet with Ross to determine if Pennsylvania Modular violated a federal regulation requiring 60-days notification of a plant shutdown.

Pennsylvania Modular attorney Jordan Cunningham said the company does not believe it is covered by the Warren Act and, if it is, there are exemptions and exceptions to the act which would apply in this case.

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