Meadowcraft reorganizing under pressure
Casual Living Staff -- Casual Living, April 1, 2009
Meadowcraft, Inc., the nation's largest manufacturer of outdoor wrought iron furniture, faces a Chapter 11 involuntary bankruptcy petition, filed March 20 in Delaware by a core group of New York banking creditors.
“The banks have really been squeezing us for about four weeks now,” CEO and Chairman Sam Blount said. Despite that, Blount said a resolution was reached March 26 with the banking groups.
“I've been in this business for 29 years – almost 30 years – and the company has never been in a stronger position,” Blount said. “We're ahead of last year; I'm shocked at how well we're doing this year.”
Through memos, Blount assured employees of his personal commitment to the Birmingham, Ala.-based company. “We are exerting all efforts to provide as much work as possible for our 1,300 Alabama employees,” he wrote in a memo dated March 23. “Our future is bright with pre-sales commitments for 2010 at an all-time high, the addition of the Tommy Bahama line and new cutting-edge designs and programs at both our iron and cushion facilities. We are positioned to meet the production and shipping needs for the remainder of the 2009 season.”
In a March 11 memo to Meadowcraft employees, vendor partners, customers, sales reps and lending institutions, Blount announced Jerry Camp, former president, and Larry Maynor, chief financial officer, were no longer with the company. Recently discovered accounting irregularities were reported to the U.S. Attorney General's office and an investigation was in progress, according to Blount's memo.
On the day the bankruptcy was filed, about 30-40 Meadowcraft workers gathered outside its Selma, Ala. plant, seeking their pay checks, according to The Selma Times-Journal. Workers told reporters they were uncertain they would receive checks. Later, a representative from management arrived at the gate and told the workers “the bank has funded your checks, come and get them.”
Workers also received a letter, which said the company plans to continue to operate and provide employment. “As you are aware, Meadowcraft has struggled during the current economic turmoil that is affecting virtually every company throughout the world,” the letter said.