The fat lady finally is singing for Hobson Mould Works Inc.
Despite lengthy efforts by President Gerald Hobson and an outside turnaround company to sell the toolmaker and blow molder, the company's assets will be auctioned off June 28 at Hobson's Shell Rock, Iowa, headquarters.
The company, which at one time employed 140, closed its doors the week of May 28. Houston-based liquidator Plant & Machinery Inc. has been on the premises since then preparing equipment for the one-day sale, said Plant & Machinery President Robert Braman in a May 31 telephone interview.
The auctioneer was retained by Milwaukee-based Firstar bank, the cash-strapped toolmaker's major creditor.
``We were close a few times in finding a buyer, but timing became a great issue,'' Hobson said on May 31. ``The bank had to have 30 days to meet the auction. We always thought a sale was possible until the end, so we could keep jobs for employees, but we've totally exhausted all our contacts.''
The auctioneer will sell Hobson's blow molding equipment - including some late-model Placo single- and dual-head machines - and a mix of tooling machinery, aluminum foundry systems, material-handing equipment and office and plant furnishings. About 1,000 lots will be up for bid at the liquidation sale, Braman said.
Hobson's building in Shell Rock will be auctioned off separately before the machinery is sold, Braman said. That way, a buyer will have the option to keep equipment in the location instead of moving it elsewhere, he said.
The blow molding equipment could fetch the highest prices, said Braman, who said he was constrained by Firstar from revealing the amount of money expected from the sale. ``It's as nice a plastics package as I've ever seen for age and condition,'' Braman said.
Plant & Machinery will offer a brochure and details on the auction schedule as the date draws closer. Information will be available on the company's Web site, www.pmi-auction.com.
The continued slowdown in the tooling market could have a dramatic affect on other toolmakers, said Hobson, a former national president with the American Mold Builders Association. Hobson is considering work as a consultant and other options.
``Survival right now is the key word for most tooling companies,'' Hobson said in a cautionary tone. ``It's slow all over, and the reins on spending have been seriously tightened up. A lot of toolmakers just don't have anything right now.''