How an Armstrong Flooring employee is trying to get out of bankruptcy – LNP | Lancaster Online | Vette Leader

In her 40s, at the peak of her career, Amy Sumpman finds herself on a job hunt forced by the bankruptcy of the only employer she’s known for her entire career, Armstrong Flooring.

Sumpman, a married mother of a 22-year-old son, is from Lancaster County and attended Rohrerstown Elementary School near the company’s former headquarters.

In her search for a new job, she is supported by the same people who helped her survive the darkest days of the international flooring manufacturer: her customers, colleagues and former employees of the company.

“I’m going to miss working with the most talented people you can find,” Sumpman said days after nearly all 390 employees at the company’s headquarters lost their jobs on July 22, months after the company filed for bankruptcy that saw the Most of its North American assets were bought by AHF Products and Gordon Brothers Commercial & Industrial, Sumpman said. This deal was announced on July 10th and closed on July 25th.

“This is a great job market,” said Sumpman, who was the director of customer service. “The people who stayed (through bankruptcy) stayed because they wanted to win; they wanted to see it the other way around. That kind of loyalty and commitment is not easy to find in a team.”

Sumpman said that of the 60 who worked in customer service, only six jobs were offered at AHF Products in West Hempfield Township, the company that bought Armstrong Flooring’s Lancaster City factories; Beech Creek Township, Pennsylvania; and Kankakee, Illinois. Sumpman estimates that around 25 to 30 employees at Armstrong Flooring’s headquarters will be picked up by AHF. Approximately 90% of the more than 200 mostly unionized employees at Armstrong Flooring’s Dillerville Road plant will remain with AHF.

This is a view of the Lancaster City plant of Armstrong Flooring at 1067 Dillerville Road on Monday 11th July 2022.

Customer Service handled everything from returns, installation training, technical advice, service advice, samples, order fulfillment, shipping procedures, returns and credits, and even managed part of Armstrong Flooring’s export business.

Sumpman is among 25 headquarters employees who stayed with the company about 60 days and helped Gordon Brothers Commercial & Industrial divest the rest of the company, including completing orders and closing factories in Mississippi and Oklahoma.

She can leave earlier if the right job comes along, and she said Gordon Brothers supports that.

“Those 60 days will go by very quickly,” Sumpman said. “The liquidation company understands that everyone is looking for their next new home.”

It is gratifying, she said, that the company’s customers and competitors have made efforts to help the workers.

Amy Sumpman, former Armstrong Flooring Customer Service Manager, poses in front of the former greenfield headquarters of Armstrong Flooring Fr…

“That says a lot about a company,” she said.

scars of bankruptcy

When CEO Michel Vermette told employees on July 10 that Armstrong Flooring was being sold in pieces, they were heartbroken.

“Sorry,” she said. “So very sad.”

The sadness was coupled with an uncertainty about her future. The sadness was felt even by employees who left the company years ago, Sumpman said.

“I couldn’t help but wish they’d bought the whole thing,” Sumpman said. “We hoped that one company would buy all of the North American assets and take in all of the people as well.”

AHF is located at 3840 Hempland Road in West Hempfield Township on Wednesday 6th July 2022.

Sumpman said the hopes were fueled by the fact that many of the AHF employees, including its CEO Brian Carson, had worked at Armstrong Flooring.

After news of the sale broke, Sumpman focused on helping her employees find their next job, connecting them with leads and writing resumes. Some have spent decades at Armstrong Flooring, never needing a resume or even hearing about LinkedIn, the social media network focused on business and employment.

“I have all of her personal contact information,” Sumpman said. “I try to help each of them. They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do, especially over the past six months.”

Longtime people are the most nervous, she said. In the course of their careers, they have developed into highly specific technical experts.

As an example of the caliber of her staff, Sumpman said the claims team has the authority to independently adjudicate claims up to $50,000.

Sumpman said she’s confident that eventually everyone will get a job. That doesn’t take away the pain of bankruptcy.

“I think the biggest thing a lot of us have is losing severance pay,” Sumpman said. Armstrong Flooring’s severance package was based on years of service with the company, and she and her colleagues hoped they would see benefits if they survived the bankruptcy. Now many are seeking that settlement through bankruptcy filings, but it’s not clear they’ll get any money.

“[Armstrong had]a culture where if you worked really hard and gave 100%, you would continue to grow and advance within the company,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of promotions from within. If you pursued other avenues, people were brought back with open arms. It was that kind of environment.”

Customer service representatives spoke to hundreds of thousands of people at all levels of all types of businesses. Sumpman said she is proud of how the customer service department has created a talent bank that feeds into Armstrong Flooring’s sales and marketing.

“There isn’t a single person to blame,” Sumpman said of the bankruptcy. She certainly doesn’t blame Vermette.

“For me, one of the things that people need to know is that we are a group of incredibly talented people who tried to turn the ship around, none more so than Michel Vermette,” Sumpman said. “He didn’t cause it and he inherited a huge debt legacy. He did everything he could. His leadership didn’t cause that.”

Sumpman said she would return to work under Vermette “immediately.”

“We’ve never had a CEO roll up his sleeves like that,” Sumpman said. “He got daily dispatch calls. There was no question he couldn’t answer, no strategy he wouldn’t review. He didn’t come to Armstrong to fly his flag. I’m sure this is not the result he wanted.”

Next Steps

Sumpman hopes her next job will be with a company like Armstrong Flooring.

Amy Sumpman, former Armstrong Flooring Customer Service Manager, poses in front of the former greenfield headquarters of Armstrong Flooring Fr…

Sumpman, a graduate of Hempfield High School, joined Armstrong World Industries at the age of 24.

She took her first flight – an 18-hour flight to India for Armstrong Flooring.

“I guess with this company it was ‘go big or go home,'” Sumpman said. “I just don’t know of any other companies that would take that kind of risk (with a young employee).”

In her 20-year career, she rose from manager to supervisor and last year to director in customer service.

“This company raised me in so many ways,” Sumpman said. “As much as I have worked for this company, this company has given me as much as I have given, which cannot be said for all companies.”

She led the department through bankruptcy, and on her and her colleagues’ last day, she led the farewell that started as a small potluck and turned into a company farewell party.

She captured the feelings of the moment in a video titled “Last Dance.” The montage of snapshots is juxtaposed with the song “The Best is Yet to Come” by Ben Rector.

It begins: It was the kind of year I would be fine if I forget, yeah

But I’ll never forget it as long as I live, and that’s saying a lot

The wildest menagerie of unfortunate crazy things and now it’s all over

Sumpman looked around at co-workers during this party.

“As I watched the group, it occurred to me that an outside observer would never have known that the majority of this group would lose their jobs tomorrow,” Sumpman wrote on LinkedIn. “I’m grateful to have worked with every person in this room and I’m so proud of how we did our ‘last dance’ together. This video of memories from our customer service team gives you a little insight into why these people mean so much to me.”

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