Global Fastener News

Rockford Machinery to be Auctioned

Rockford Machinery to be Auctioned
December 19
02:02 2016

The machinery and equipment from the shuttered plant of Rockford Products LLC will be auctioned in a three-day sale in February.

PPL Auction will conduct the sale at the Rockford Products plant in Illinois from February 14-16, 2017.

Rockford Products announced in August 2016 it would be closing.

Included in the sale are National cold formers, boltmakers, progressive headers and cold header; Nedschroef bolt maker; 30 threaders; Fastener Engineers uncovers; RMG pre-feeders and wire drawers; Induction heaters; Heat treat furnace lines and furnaces; Mazak CNC milling & turning center; Haas CNC vertical machining centers; Koyo & Cincinnati center less grinders; toolroom equipment; Tumblasts; Vibratory demurring equipment; Cleaning & Phosphate lines; Tooling; Inspection equipment; and Plant support equipment.

Proceeds will go to creditors of Rockford Products.

In August, CEO Dave Richeson wrote in a “Warn” letter to the state of Illinois that “circumstances will force Rockford Products LLC to conduct a mass layoff in the coming days.” Rockford then laid off 171 people permanently by the end of September 2016, according to the Rockford Register Star.

Rockford Employees Lose 401(k) Money 

In September, WIFR reported Rockford Products employees who were laid off face losing much of their 401(k)’s.

Former employees told WIFR “they are being denied their 401(k)’s because Black Eagle, which owns Rockford Products, and First Midwest Bank, which owns the company’s assets do not want to pay the audit fees to release the 401(k)’s back to the employees.”

“There’s a lot of people that participated and now we have to pay for them. And now we have to pay for them and I just don’t think it’s right,” 45-year Rockford Products employee Larry Hagemann told WIFR.

Audits cost “thousands and thousands of dollars and it’s going to be pushed back to the plan members like myself and everybody else that had retirement with Rockford Products and we’re going to have to end up eating the costs of those audits,” former employee Annette Young told WIFR.

“I didn’t want to leave this way. It was good place to work,” Hagemann said. 

Though there are laws protect 401(k)s, the language in the Rockford Products program may have made employees responsible for audits. 

The cold-formed fastener manufacturer was acquired in 2007 for $23.2 million in a bankruptcy auction by Michigan-based BlackEagle Partners LLC, a private equity firm.

Subsequently BlackEagle had invested $30 million “without seeing any return on the investment” and the fastener manufacturer has defaulted on payments, according to local TV station WREX.

Rockford Products filed the Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act letter with Illinois. The U.S. Department of Labor requires that companies with 100 or more employees send WARN letters 60 days ahead of plant closings and layoffs to affected employees and state and local governments.

Richeson told WREX that sales weakened and forced the manufacturer into default.

Rockford Products had sought another buyer and some parties showed interest.

“I would say their biggest problem was probably mismanagement not having somebody or the right leadership in position to run the company profitably,” Rockford Area Economic Development Council VP of development Stacy Bernardi told WREX.

BlackEagle did not seek economic incentives to keep Rockford Products going, Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen, whose grandfather worked for Rockford Screw Products, told the Register Star.

“To me this is a classic case where an equity firm comes in and is milking it for everything it’s worth,” Christiansen said.

Christiansen told WREX it is disappointing to see a local company close and “especially a long standing company like that that was part of the whole industrial revolution that made Rockford.”

“I think we do have enough openings in the fastener industry,” Christiansen said of jobs for Rockford Products’ employees. “We still have like 10,000 people working in the fastener industry, which is quite amazing.”

BlackEagle was formed in 2005 and is headed by managing partner Michael Madden.  Web: BlackEaglePartners.com

Founded in 1929 as Rockford Screw Products to make fasteners for the then-local furniture industry, Rockford Products manufactured cold-formed components, engineered fasteners, ball joints and custom formed parts for the automotive, agriculture, industrial, off-highway and commercial vehicle customers. It was certified to ISO/TS 16949, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. The company also provided heat treatment, tool manufacturing and finishing operations.  Web: RockfordProducts

For auction information contact PPL Auction of Northbrook, IL.  Tel: 224 927-5320. Email: sales@pplauction.com  Web: pplauction.com

For more stories on Rockford Products, click on the Fastener History section of GlobalFastenerNews.com

1985 FIN – Rexnord Selling Rockford Products to 8 Employees

Rauh, Naill, Schaer, Giesen, Chadwick, Johnson, Goff and Baxter expected to be owners in ESOP.

1987 FIN – Rockford Products Back to Being Profitable

A year ago, Rockford left consolidated management of the International and packaged fastener divisions and this year Cold Formed division split between small and large diameter.

1988 & 2008 FIN: Rockford’s Role in the Fastener Industry

The U.S. is quickly becoming a service-oriented nation and little can be done to slow the decline in manufacturing as it moves offshore.

1990 FIN – Rockford, Spirol & Seaway Win Ford Awards

The Precision Forming Division of Elco Industries, Inc. is the first fastener manufacturer to receive GM’s Mark of Excellence award.

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