MONSON, Maine — Up for the highest bid: a manufacturing plant, hundreds of pieces of equipment and vehicles, and a well-known brand name.
All the efforts made to keep Moosehead Furniture Co., formerly Moosehead Manufacturing Co. in Monson, in production and retain as many as 40 jobs, were not enough to overcome the dour economy.
Machias Savings Bank, the primary lender of the Tardy-Connors Group LLC, who in September 2007 saved the business from an earlier auction, has placed the property and equipment up for auction with Keenan Auction Co.
The LLC is a partnership between Newport lawyer Joshua Tardy, former state transportation Commissioner Dana Connors, former president of Moosehead Manufacturing Co. John Wentworth, and Rhode Island financier Ed Skovron.
“Myself and the other investors looked at it as an opportunity to have a profitable financial enterprise and so, as disappointing as this is and as consequential as this failure is to myself and the other investors, we’re equally as disappointed that we’ve got very, very good people out of work,” Tardy said Tuesday.
An advertisement on the Keenan Auction site says sealed bids on the property, equipment, vehicles and the company name will be accepted until Jan. 21.
Monson Town Manager Julie Anderson said she hoped an investor would step in before the auction to save the business, which was the town’s largest employer,.
“It’s very disheartening because we were very encouraged about them doing the business,” Anderson said Tuesday. She said she recognized that with the poor economic times, it was hard for a furniture business to survive.
Tardy said domestic furniture manufacturers have had a really tough go of it, in particular in the past 24 months. “Not that they haven’t had a tough go in the past decade, but it’s been an extraordinary downturn in domestic furniture consumption [in the past 24 months],” he said.
The owners actually made the decision to stop manufacturing a couple of months ago “when it was clear that it was a necessity,” Tardy said. Between 30 and 40 people were directly affected by the closure, he said.
Tardy said a search is on for an investor who could revive the plant before the equipment, plant and vehicles are auctioned off piecemeal. Access to capital in this economy is certainly an obstacle for this plant to reopen and survive and ultimately thrive, he said. “I am not blind to the fact that somebody with deep enough pockets in an economic upturn could make a go of this because it’s such a fine product, and it’s such a great work force,” Tardy said.”