The new owners of the remnants of automotive supplier Venture Holdings Co. LLC are putting together a plan that will retain the company as a manufacturing entity.
Banks that had loaned funds to the Sterling Heights, Mich.-based injection molder prior to its 2003 bankruptcy won the assets in a bid through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit in April.
While Venture operated under Chapter 11 protection for two years, the company still is a substantial business, with an estimated $1 billion in sales for 2004 and 6,300 employees in 28 factories throughout the United States, France and the Czech Republic. The bank group's buyout also set up a new operation with no debt.
``Venture's new ownership group gives us a solid foundation of financial support, a track record for sound investment and a commitment to grow this company going forward,'' Eugene Davis, chairman of the board and interim chief executive officer, said in a May 3 news release.
Davis leads Pirinate Consulting Group LLC, which specializes in turning around troubled operations. He is a former chairman of the executive committee for battery maker Exide Technologies Inc. and is a director of Oxford Automotive Inc.'s European operation. Troy, Mich.-based Oxford recently emerged from Chapter 11, intent on building its future around its European unit.
``We have an experienced and dedicated workforce, strong customer relationships and a renewed focus and enthusiasm,'' Davis said.
Kirk Aubry, a former executive vice president with Textron Automotive Co. Inc., will be chief operating officer. Christopher Smith, former CEO of Venture's Deluxe Engineering unit, will be chief financial officer.
``We have already begun an aggressive revitalization program focused on increasing plant efficiency and utilization, stabilizing ongoing operations and pursuing growth opportunities,'' Aubry said. ``For the near term, we'll continue to operate using the Venture name.''
But going forward will be difficult, one industry watcher said.
While Venture had extensive contracts and business last year, it had little opportunity to pursue new business while it was in bankruptcy. The molding taking place now is from contracts quoted and bid on more than two years ago. Future business is not quite as clear.
Venture's problems date back to 2002 when its main European subsidiary, Germany's Peguform GmbH, filed for insolvency. The lack of Peguform's income crippled Venture, which still was responsible for paying debts linked to the acquisition of Peguform in 1999.
Once in Chapter 11, Venture's creditors squabbled extensively with its founder, Larry Winget, and complicated ownership issues related to Venture's patents, tooling and real estate slowed progress through the court.
The new leadership team is aware of its difficulties, Aubry said.
``Obviously we face some big challenges in a tough, competitive industry, but we've already overcome bigger challenges and are in an outstanding position to forge ahead,'' he said.