Auditors and consultants are reviewing operations at an Iowa molding company to help determine its future, while a court-appointed custodian oversees the business.
No one involved with Purethane Corp. of West Branch, Iowa, is talking publicly about what happened to trigger the action, but L. Eugene Bailey, a company director, petitioned Cedar County District Court on Oct. 11 to dissolve the company and wind up affairs under the guidance of a third party.
Judge David Schoenthaler named Martin J. Kelly, a former president of the Iowa City Area Development Group, as custodian in late October. The court also ordered Kelly to keep many details of the process confidential, Kelly said, but business is continuing.
"We're trying to keep a low profile," Kelly said in a Dec. 27 telephone interview. "There are a couple of issues out there to be resolved. We're having an audit done and trying to close the books for the fiscal year."
In his court filing, Bailey said he and business partner Ronald Christensen "cannot agree on fundamental issues" involving the company.
Bailey's lawyer, David Dutton, said he could not talk about what led to the petition because of the ongoing court action. He did not refer to Bailey and Christensen as co-owners of Purethane, but as "shareholders, each owning 50 percent" of the company.
Christensen could not be reached for comment.
Kelly has been given full control of the day-to-day operation and said he expects to have a better idea about the company's future by late January, including whether it will go up for sale.
"I don't know what the final result will be," he said. "There is no answer for now."
Purethane is delivering on its contracts while also improving on core operations, Kelly said.
"Each day, we do a little better," he said. "We're keeping our customers satisfied."
The business opened in 1982 and is an injection molder, blow molder and rotational molder for a variety of customers, including the automotive and marine industries.
Purethane more than doubled its employment during the past three years, from 150 in 1997 to 350 this year. It is one of the biggest employers in West Branch, which has 1,900 residents.