Unique Fabricating made plastic, rubber and foam components for customers including Stellantis NV, General Motors Co., Yanfeng Automotive Interior Systems, Rivian Automotive Inc. and Bosch until it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation — a highly unusual move for auto suppliers.
In tandem with the filing, the company ceased operations and terminated nearly 1,000 employees across all of its subsidiaries. At the same time, Stellantis, Yanfeng and General Motors banded together in an attempted $15 million bailout of Unique Fabricating that proved unsuccessful. Soon after the bankruptcy filing, Unique's customers petitioned the court to take over tooling they owned within the supplier’s plants.
PSC’s offer was among multiple bids submitted to the trustee by the Dec. 11 deadline, according to a court filing.
The company specializes in the fabrication of foam, rubber, fiberglass and adhesives for sound-dampening thermal insulation and sealing in automotive and other industries.
Founded in 1954, PSC is owned by California-based PMC Global Inc. and has grown to $180 million in annual revenue and 22 plants in the U.S., Mexico and China, according to its website. It does not have operations in Michigan.
“The Trustee likewise determined, in his business judgment and based on the same criteria, that a further marketing and/or bid procedures process would not be in the best interest of the Estates given the efforts already taken and the attendant delay and costs associated with a further process,” according to the motion filed by the trustee. “The Trustee, in his business judgment, believes that the sale of the Acquired Assets to the Buyer maximizes value under the circumstances.”
A hearing in Delaware bankruptcy court with Judge Karen Owens is scheduled for Jan. 25. Objections are due by Jan. 16.
In addition to its headquarters offices, Unique had sales, engineering, production and storage facilities in Auburn Hills and Concord, Mich. Those properties were leased and are not part of the assets being bid on. Its plants in Mexico and Canada also are not part of the deal.
Liquidation marks the end for the long-troubled company, which made its initial public offering in 2015 at $11 per share. It lost nearly all of its value in the weeks leading up to bankruptcy.
Unique Fabricating disclosed last April that it was facing insolvency after falling into default with its lender Citizens Bank NA, which halted automatic advances under its revolving line of credit.
At the same time, the company came under fire in Mexico for allegedly "obstructing workers' freedom of association and right to collective bargaining," prompting an investigation by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement's Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement.
The following month, GM, Stellantis and Yanfeng agreed to bail out the insolvent supplier with price increases and investment of up to $15 million to tide over the company. It is unclear what role, if any, production stoppages due to the United Auto Workers strike in the fall played in preventing Unique Fabricating from regaining its footing.
Like other automotive suppliers, Unique was struggling with production volatility, shrinking volumes and inflation.
Executives at the company have declined requests for comment.
“The Buyer has demonstrated its financial wherewithal to satisfy its obligations under the Purchase Agreement, including its payment of the Purchase Price and otherwise provided adequate assurance of future performance of the Purchase Agreement,” the motion said.