Moll Industries Inc. is closing or selling several plants, including all of its money-losing European operations, and has undergone a management shake-up as part of its effort to restructure and emerge from bankruptcy.
Moll's majority owner and former chief executive officer, George Votis, has stepped down and resigned from the board, and President Chuck Schiele resigned his post. Schiele remains on the board of the Davie, Fla.-based injection molder.
Votis guided the company through rapid growth from acquisitions, but the weight of too much debt forced the firm to file for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in September. Under preliminary restructuring plans, the company's chief lender could replace Votis as majority owner.
Moll announced Nov. 15 that it is closing its Fort Lauderdale, Fla., plant, and it is seeking to sell its remaining plants in France and the United Kingdom. The company now wants to focus on its profitable businesses in North America and Brazil.
The Fort Lauderdale molding plant, one of the company's smaller operations with 90 employees, will close in January or February. The plant specializes in telecommunications work, but that business suffered when Motorola Inc. pulled work to the Far East, said Chief Financial Officer William Teeple.
Moll also is trying to find a buyer for its sole remaining injection molding plant in the United Kingdom, in Morecambe, England, and for its French operations, which include four molding and two tool-building operations. Moll put the European plants, which employ almost 900, in bankruptcy and could close them it it cannot find buyers, he said.
The markets that the European plants specialized in, such as automotive, are areas Moll no longer wants to target, Teeple said.
Teeple said closing Fort Lauderdale will leave it with six molding plants, but more changes could be announced in December when the company files its formal restructuring plan with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Antonio.
``At that time we will have a final position on what the North American footprint will look like,'' Teeple said.
Some plants are operating at capacity, he said. The company's Fort Smith, Ark., plant, for example, is operating around the clock for appliance customers, including Whirlpool Corp. Moll's Brazilian plant recently started molding for Whirlpool, which has a significant presence there, he said.
Moll plans to emerge from bankruptcy in early 2003 with about $150 million in annual sales in the United States and $10 million in Brazil, down from what Teeple said was a high of nearly $400 million worldwide when it bought Anchor Advanced Products in 1998.
The company now has a chief restructuring officer, Michael D'Appolonia, who played key roles in several turnarounds, including lawn and garden molder McCulloch Corp. and Simmons Upholstered Furniture, according to Moll officials.