Pittsfield Mold & Tool Inc., which a few years ago had 81 employees and annual sales of $10 million, is to have its equipment and building auctioned off this month.
``It's like watching a family member die a slow death,'' said Joseph Kirchner, whose family once owned the company. ``That's 38 years of my father's life and it will be broken down and auctioned off in eight hours.''
An auction to sell the equipment, which includes 21 injection molding machines with clamping forces of 50-1,000 tons, is set for March 13. The building will go on the block March 29. Both auctions listed in local papers were by order of secured creditors.
Henry Kirchner founded the business in 1965 and sold it in 1999 to United Shields Corp., a publicly traded holding company in Cleveland, Tenn. United Shields also owns injection molding plants in Chester, Va., and Oxford, N.C., as a result of its 1997 acquisition of R.P. Industries Inc.
The Pittsfield deal went sour, with Kirchner and United Shields involved in lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. Last year, United Shields warned that it was in default on some loans, and that it was exploring the possible sale of its plastic companies. United Shields did not respond to questions.
Meanwhile, the Kirchner family has returned to plastics. Custom injection molder Injected Solutions Inc. has been up and running since August in Lanesboro, Mass., about 10 miles from PM&T, in the 22,000-square-foot facility where PM&T operated from 1972-96.
Business has been slow so far for the molder, which has six machines, from 40-400 tons. But its goal, said Chief Executive Officer Henry Kirchner, is to reach annual sales of $5 million by mid-2003.