MONSON, Maine — A Portland woman who purchased the contents of Moosehead Furniture Co. at a public auction in August has placed much of the equipment back up for auction.
Louise Jonaitis submitted a winning bid of $1,050,000 at an August bankruptcy auction for the purchase of the longtime furniture-making business. But before any money changed hands, she learned there were some environmental issues involving barrels of unidentified chemicals that had been left on the property.
Based on those issues, Jonaitis negotiated with Machias Savings Bank, which had foreclosed on the property, for the purchase of just the equipment and other contents. Earlier this month, she said hasn’t given up on reopening the plant, but rather than own the building, she would like to lease it once the environmental issues have been addressed.
It came as a surprise to many, however, when she said she will place much of the equipment up for public auction on Dec. 18.
“The auction is the result of the constraints that I have to work within,” Jonaitis said Monday. “I have made the best of a bad situation and was able to save the Moosehead brand name, the machinery, the assets and the finished furniture.”
Jonaitis said she planned to “reap some of the benefits” from the auction and use them to continue to advance the plan to reopen Moosehead Furniture Co.
“The idea that it won’t go on is out of the question … it’s just a matter of how, when, where and under what circumstances,” Jonaitis said. “Unless we start liquidating all our people, we can continue manufacturing and that’s my goal and my goal is for the people in Monson to do it.”
John Holden of Eaton Peabody Consulting Group said Monday that it was his understanding that Jonaitis was auctioning off old equipment and equipment that she did not need in the furniture-making process.
Holden, who is under contract as interim director of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council and is working with Monson, said Jonaitis is keeping the rest of the equipment in Monson and is negotiating the purchase of other furniture-making equipment, he said.