Berkeley Spring furniture manufacturer emerges from pandemic upbeat about the future

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BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. (WDVM) — In this post-pandemic economy employers are having a hard time finding workers. But as one eastern panhandle business is going all-out to hire the best.

Gat Caperton is an entrepreneur with a major furniture manufacturing plant in Morgan County, West Virginia, a short drive from downtown Berkeley Springs. How did he manage to navigate the pandemic business climate?

“No one had any idea how beneficial [for furniture manufacturing] locking everyone up in the house was for a year,” said Caperton. “The demand for furniture suddenly exploded. People spend their money where they spend their time.”

We’ve had the challenge of building more furniture than we’ve ever tried to build before, which is only accomplished by getting more employees,” Caperton said.

So how has the pandemic changed the labor market?

“I think this pandemic has had a lot of people retire,” Caperton said. “A lot of people have child care or elder care that they have to do. That kind of makes it hard for them to work. So the pool is a little smaller than it was during the pandemic.”

Caperton says his aggressive recruiting for workers is in high gear, but keeping them on the job? Caperton says he builds work schedules so that family comes first.

“Pretty much running a standard schedule that makes family life a lot easier, I think, is one thing that keeps people around,” Caperton said.

Caperton says the door is open to applicants looking for that steady job with growth opportunity. Gat Creek furniture has a workforce of 140 making $20 an hour, a 401-k match with holidays and paid vacation.

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