Moll Industries Inc.'s final plant, in Seagrove, N.C., lost its largest customer so now Moll is closing the plant and an auction house will sell the equipment Dec. 1.
Branford Group bought the operation and will hold the auction, which will include 38 injection presses with clamping forces of 33-650 tons, including late-model Toshiba all-electric machines. Auxiliary equipment includes Wittmann, Yushin and Star robots.
It's clean room work cells. Immaculate, said James Gardner, senior vice president of auction sales at Branford Group. It's all late-model, clean room medical equipment that's been well-maintained.
He said the operation has four buildings in the complex, two of which are clean rooms.
Gardner said he is open to selling the entire operation, to a buyer that would continue to run it.
Sources familiar with Moll said Medrad Inc., which accounted for about 80 percent of the plant's business, pulled its work out earlier out this year.
Moll, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, outlined the lost work in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed Aug. 13 in North Carolina, announcing it would lay off 109 employees in Seagrove. On July 28, Moll's single-largest customer informed Moll officials that it would not place any further orders with Moll, Jeffrey Merritt, the chief restructuring officer, wrote in the letter.
The WARN notice does not specificy the customer, but sources said it was Medrad of Indianola, Pa.
Two days before the Aug. 20 bankruptcy auction that sold the plant to Branford Group, Medrad filed a court document to make sure the sale would not include its supply agreement with Moll, which Medrad said has defaulted under the agreement.
The human resources manager at Moll's Seagrove factory referred questions to Merritt, who did not return telephone calls for this story.
But his WARN letter made it clear that losing the big customer hurt. The loss of revenue detrimentally impacts both Moll's ability to sell the facility and to continue operations at current staffing levels after August orders are filled, Merritt wrote.
Sources said Moll unsuccessfully tried to find a buyer before going to the bankruptcy auction route.
Branford Group paid $2.72 million for the Seagrove plant. That price does not include the real estate. The auction house based in Branford, Conn., beat the only other bidder, Engineered Plastic Components Inc. of Grinnell, Iowa.
The Seagrove sale apparently is the final chapter for Moll Industries. Moll first faced bankruptcy in 2002, when Dallas-based Highland Capital Management LP forced the company into involuntary Chapter 11 for $48.4 million in past-due loans. Highland Capital became the owner when Moll emerged from bankruptcy the following year. Moll then made a series of acquisitions.
But the hammer came down in 2006 when Whirlpool Corp. pulled $60 million in molding work causing Moll's sales to plunge by about two-thirds, according to court records. Moll sank back into Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 27 this year when a customer, Invensys Controls, demanded payment for a separate court judgment for $947,000.
In recent years, Moll had added plants in Mexico to be close to appliance makers. Moll also invested in clean rooms and medical molding in its factories.
But after closing several plants, Moll was down to just two: Seagrove and a plant in Donegal, Ireland. A news report in Ireland said in July that Moll sold the Donegal plant to its management.