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Thomas Russell

Harden Mfg. asset sale planned

Haleyville, Ala. - First-Merit Bank, the secured creditor of promotional case goods resource Harden Mfg., is holding a public sale of the company's assets as part of an effort to raise capital for the struggling manufacturer.
     A legal notice published in the Alabama Messenger Feb. 15 announced that the Birmingham, Ala., bank was holding a foreclosure sale at 11 a.m. March 12 of the assets of Harden Mfg. parent company HM Holding Co., and its sister companies HM Operating Inc., Harden Shipping and Harden Transport.
     The auction is a process in which the company surrenders its assets to cover its debts to a secured creditor such as First-Merit. It also allows new investors to provide sufficient working capital for the company to continue operations.
     Over the past six months, the company has undertaken a restructuring. It has shed its imported case goods line as well as its upholstery line, neither of which were profitable, a source said.
     It exited imported case goods last July and ultimately sold almost all the inventory at a discount. The company got out of upholstery in December because it wasn't able to purchase imported fabric at competitive pricing.
     Harden will now focus entirely on its domestic bedroom line, which offers laminate bedrooms that retail from $399 to $599 for four-piece sets.
     By focusing on domestic production, Harden will continue what has been a profitable area of the business since it started making bedrooms in 1972, a source said.
     The company also has stopped shipping to the West Coast but continues to ship to the Southeast and most parts of the Midwest.
     Company President Sam Federico, who joined Harden Mfg. last summer, declined to comment on specific aspects of the proceedings or on the company's strategic initiatives other than to say, "We are cautiously optimistic that this is a very good thing for Harden," and that the company will remain in business. "It just needs to clean up its balance sheet, plain and simple."
     Federico didn't say how much funding the company needed to achieve sufficient liquidity, but said that having such liquidity was critical.
     "We have always known that Harden needed to be recapitalized and that is happening," he said.
     Local business people are keeping a close eye on the situation and are hopeful for the sake of the company and its estimated 300 workers.
    "I hope they are successful for our area's sake and because the jobs are well needed in this area," said Randy Kilpatrick, president of Furniture Supply Co., a Haleyville company that has done business with Harden since it started, supplying goods like packaging material, hardware and even janitorial supplies. "It has been a great company and a big part of our company throughout the years.... I hope whoever buys it will continue to do well for this area."
    Anyone interested in more information about the public sale, should contact Scott N. Opincar, an attorney for the secured creditor, at (216) 348-5753 or e-mail him at sopincar@mcdonaldhopkins.com.
     Harden Mfg. is not related to Harden Furniture, a high-end manufacturer based in New York.

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