by: CORY MIMMS - Brentwood Corp. employees working to produce cabinet doors. The beast we know as recession may not have left town, but its ragged back is definitely turned and it’s contemplating moving on. As the housing market continues to get better, the manufacturing companies behind the scenes are also booming.

Brentwood Corp., a Molalla company that supplies cabinet doors to 600 companies, is especially happy with their progress this year.

The company’s sales in the first half of 2013 are up 30% from the first half of 2012. Their January sales alone saw a 40% increase compared to January 2012. That means jobs for the local economy.

In August of 2007 Brentwood employed 316 people. By October 2008, amid gasps at how awful the U.S. housing market was doing, that number had dropped to 183. The layoffs continued every month until December 2011, when they reached a low of 121 employees. In 2012 they bumped up slightly to an average of 128 employees, but the big jump came this year.

As of June 30 the company employed 165 people, almost a 29 percent increase from its 2012 average. But Brentwood isn’t stopping with a 165-strong workforce. Three to five new hires are walking through the factory doors every week.

“We’re gearing up fast to get out in front of the recovery,” general manager Mark Borski said, adding that he’s “pleasantly surprised” at the knowledge the new employees have.

The workers are also getting a lot of overtime, which is a good sign for business as well after five years of low workloads.

Most of the sales are coming from new construction, Borski said, as the remodeling market is still in a lull. Home owners are probably still wary about investing in their homes, thinking that the value gained might be less than the remodeling costs.

All over Oregon, Molalla included, the housing market is experiencing a rise in home prices and a drop in inventory. New construction is booming, Borski said. “It’s been a dramatic recovery.”

After several years of layoffs and flat sales since 2009, “it’s fun to be in growth mode again,” Borski said, adding that it’s better to struggle to grow fast than to struggle to shrink quickly.

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