Inteplast Group Corp. bought shuttered PVC building products maker Gossen Corp. for $5.5 million in a court-supervised sale on Dec. 12. Now the new owner is moving quickly to call back 143 laid-off workers and restart operations.
When Milwaukee-based Gossen went into receivership about two months ago, 94 employees in Glendale, Wis., and 49 in Cartersville, Ga. lost their jobs. All assets were put up for sale and an auction was scheduled.
Twenty-seven potential bidders made site visits to the Gossen facilities but only Inteplast Group registered for the auction, according to a report of sale document filed with the Circuit Court for Milwaukee County.
Livingston, N.J.-based Inteplast operates more than 50 manufacturing facilities and is the second largest North American film and sheet manufacturer with sales exceeding $2.6 billion, according to the Plastics News data.
Founded in 1928, Gossen produced decking, railing, moldings, millwork, trimboards, sheet and more. Inteplast officials said those products will complement Inteplast's World-Pak division, which makes PVC decking, molding and trim at its plants in Lolita, Texas, and Middlebury, Ind.
“Gossen was well known to us by name and quality,” Inteplast President John Young said in a news release. “Our hearts were drawn to this acquisition mainly because of the massive layoff affecting the livelihoods of 143 people and their families. It was imperative for us to get the bid done and quickly resume operations.”
Production is expected to restart by the end of December.
“We're assessing the condition of equipment and buildings and getting resources and raw materials on the ground to get everyone back to work as soon as we can,” said Brenda Wilson, Inteplast's senior director of human resources and communications, in a telephone interview.
Inteplast could have joined the liquidation process to save money but restoring operations and jobs was more important, Young said.
“One office manager had worked at Gossen for 46 years. Imagine this,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the staff that made Gossen great. It's the catalyst for us being proactive and bringing them back to work.”
Gossen's debt “significantly exceeded” $5.5 million, according to Inteplast. Only one of some 430 creditors was named and that was $4.5 million owed to First Business Capital Corp. for several loans issued in 2012. The bank asked the court to appoint a receiver on Oct. 14 — a day after Gossen officials gave notice they wouldn't meet payroll obligations — saying the business is insolvent or in imminent danger of insolvency.
The court appointed Milwaukee lawyer Michael Polsky as the receiver. At that time, C.J. Murray, a lawyer working with Polsky, said all assets of the business were for sale even as the owners took steps of their own to find capital and investors to salvage their business.
The Butterfield family purchased Gossen Corp. in 1985. Frank Butterfield III was named president in December 2015.
After Polsky was named receiver, Murray said, “We don't have a lot of answers about why we got to this point. Our job is to try to make the best of the situation. In a good case scenario, we're selling it as a going concern or a whole, but the market will tell us what everything is worth.”
The sale to Inteplast is expected to close the week of Dec. 12. The company's World-Pak division also produces silicone-coated liners for the roofing industry at its MTI Polyexe facility in Brentwood, N.H.
Gossen was founded 88 years ago by Martin Gossen, who invented the first spring-loaded window sash, according to the company website, which also says the business was the first in North America to use cellular PVC in the 1960s. With estimated sales of $40 million, Gossen ranked No. 69 in the latest Plastics News survey of North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders.