A group of local investors led by Rick Ball and Norbert Schneider with Innovative Livestock Service Inc. has entered into a tentative agreement with Victory Park Capital to purchase the commercial product segment of the Fuller Brush Company.
In a separate transaction with the same investors, a tentative deal was also reached with Stag Industrial Management of Boston for all of the manufacturing facilities, office buildings and real estate belonging to the original Fuller Brush Company.
“The final closing is several weeks away as there are a few items that need to be jointly resolved,” Ball said. “This overall effort was made possible with the commitment of local investors who care greatly about the Fuller Brush Company remaining a viable employer in the local area communities.”
Many of these investors were also participants in the 2004 purchase of CPI Qualified Plan Consultants Inc. that helped retain 400-plus jobs in the area.
Schneider said the deal does not include the household division. Victory Park, a Chicago-based investment firm, will retain ownership of this line.
However, Victory Park will contract with the local owners to manufacture the products. “Everything stays intact,” Schneider said.
Whether or not the new owners will retain the Fuller Brush name remains uncertain. For now, it will do business as Fuller Industries LLC.
“This is all about Fuller,” Schneider said. “Fuller Brush is going to be coming back now.”
“Our belief in the local and surrounding communities has never changed,” said ILS Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murphy. “This is a long-term investment for the future and it would not be not be possible without the hard work and diligence put forth from Rick Ball and Norbert Schneider. We are very excited about the possibilities that exist with Fuller and very grateful to be a part of keeping a very important business local.”
ILS is a privately held Kansas based corporation dedicated to the development of rural communities and businesses throughout Western Kansas and Nebraska with a strong focus on professional cattle feeding and precision farming.
“ILS feels very fortunate to be a part of this new endeavor and strongly believes that it will become a source of job growth in Barton, Pawnee and surrounding counties,” said Lee Borck, chairman of ILS. “It is opportunities like this, that one day, will provide good paying jobs to entice our area youths to return to rural America.”
In February, Fuller’s Leicester, N.Y.,-based parent company CPAC filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. At the time, company officials said the action would have little impact on the day-to-day operation at Great Bend facility.
Fuller Brush’s assets and debts each amounted to between $10 million and $50 million and Fuller had 185 employees at the time of the filing, 180 of which are at the Great Bend plant. The reason for the filing, company officials said, was to bring an infusion of needed capital into the struggling company.
There are several divisions of CPAC, each of which are being sold separately. Fuller Brush is one of these.
The company, founded in Connecticut in 1906 by Alfred C. Fuller and famous for its door-to-door “Fuller Brush Man” sales force, now sells personal care and household cleaning products directly and through retailers.
The Fuller facility sits on 123.46 acres at the corner of 10th and Airport roads wests of Great Bend. Covering 572,114 square feet, the plant was built in 1973.