ASC Inc. has entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a plan to sell itself.
The company, which specialized in making sunroofs and low-volume specialty cars for the North American auto industry, using both composites and metal, already has shut four of its plants and cut its workforce from 1,250 people at the start of 2005 to 252 as it has struggled to stay alive.
The pending sale to financial group Hancock Park Associates will retain ASC's sunroof and design units, but liquidate ``nonproductive'' assets.
ASC already has shut down its composites operations and failed in earlier efforts to find a buyer for those facilities.
According to an affidavit from ASC President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wilbur, filed as part of the May 2 petition with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit, ASC ran into trouble when it invested nearly $250 million to make the Chevrolet SSR sports truck for General Motor Corp., along with three other specialty vehicles contracted to ASC by the Detroit automaker.
ASC expected a $225 million boost in its annual sales from the program, but GM later decreased production of the SSR and canceled it early, and terminated the contract for the other three vehicles, Wilbur said.
At the same time, DaimlerChrysler Corp. halted production of its Dodge Viper - which used parts from ASC - for a year because of engine problems.
ASC reduced its workforce and shut down factories, and also began seeking a new buyer in 2005. The supplier currently is owned by investment group Questor Partners Fund LP.
The firm has used both reaction injection molding and sheet molding compound to make specialty parts for cars, including fascias, spoilers and hoods.
Los Angeles-based Hancock Partners is principal shareholder in Saleen Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based specialty car maker.