Jeld-Wen Inc. announced today that it will acquire Craftmaster Manufacturing Inc. (CMI), the Chicago-based maker of doors, trim, and panels, in a deal that looks to keep the CraftMaster brand name and management team intact.

The announcement followed the signing of a letter of intent by Jeld-Wen. Next comes due diligence and then the negotiation and signing of a definitive agreement, most likely in the third quarter.

"The acquisition will expand Jeld-Wen’s manufacturing footprint in the United States, will give Jeld-Wen access to new and proprietary technology, and will increase its focus on environmentally friendly wood composite exterior products," Jeld-Wen said in a statement. While Jeld-Wen is based in Klamath Falls, Ore., CMI's principal manufacturing facility is in Towanda, Pa.

CMI's portfolio consists of CraftMaster molded door facings and doors, MiraTEC exterior composite trim, and Extira exterior composite panels. Jeld-Wen executive vice president Jim Morrison said the company would invest further in the making, marketing, and merchandising of CraftMaster brand products and that CMI's existing management team will remain in place.

"We see the new relationship with Jeld-Wen as a great fit for both organizations," Jeld-Wen's statement quoted CMI president and CEO Bob Merrill as saying. "CMI and JELD-WEN share the same strong principles of quality products, manufacturing excellence and outstanding customer service. We are pleased with Jeld-Wen’s commitment to support and grow CMI’s product lines, which have been recognized leaders in the marketplace, through continued investment in technology, manufacturing and merchandising."

 Jeld-Wen noted that by joining together, it and CMI could gain efficiencies in producing molded door facing designs as well as better serve customers nationwide.

Today's announcement comes 10 months after Onex Corp. took majority control of Jeld-Wen Holdings, ending more than 50 years of control by the Wendt family. Stories last year said the company was $1.2 billion in debt as a result of the housing market crash. Onex is a North American investment firm based out of Toronto. Shortly after Onex took over, it named Philip Orsino--a former Masonite executive--as its new president.

In January, Jeld-Wen announced it will open in the fourth quarter of this year a door-facings plant in Winn Parish, La., that has been mothballed for several years because of the housing industry's collapse.