GAC Plastics LLC is operating under a new name, but full ownership of the facility still is not clear.
Edward W. Claffy took possession of Petoskey, Mich.-based GAC on July 15, following up when owner Steve Whiting fell through on a purchase of the property. Claffy renamed the automotive and office furniture injection molder Up North Industries LLC.
But a lawyer for Whiting maintains that Claffy had no legal right to take possession of all of the equipment and the business - just the real estate.
``It's a little unclear exactly what they're doing,'' said Whiting's representative, Michael Stack. ``We're still looking into it.''
Production is continuing at the business, which is using the Up North name and employing the same 88-member work force.
The company began as Glass Alternatives Corp. and produces polycarbonate headlamp components for the auto industry. It also is a supplier to Steelcase Inc.'s new award-winning Cachet chair line. Its operations include 11 presses, with clamping pressure of 300-1,800 tons, plus painting and coating lines to add abrasion resistance to lights.
Whiting was buying the 65,000-square-foot property that houses GAC from Claffy through a land contract agreement signed in 2000. Stack said GAC fell behind on payments as the auto industry slowed, and in May Whiting agreed to give up the purchase agreement, allowing the property to fall back to Claffy.
But Stack said the decision impacted only the building, land and any permanent fixtures, not GAC as a going concern.
The two sides have entered negotiations, he said. Stack has not ruled out the potential of court action in the case.
``There's always a million possibilities for what could happen,'' he said.
Neither executives with Up North nor Claffy's representatives were available to discuss the transaction. A story in the Petoskey News-Review quoted them saying the company is in negotiations to buy presses and other machines with GAC's lien holders. Claffy also said he believes he can turn Up North into a solid business.