When a Bankruptcy Ends Well
Sometimes it’s not the auction that does it.
Sometimes all you need is the threat of an auction. It might seem like selling all the assets of one manufacturing plant to a single buyer should be an everyday occurrence. After all most plants that are sold piecemeal at auction were once functioning manufacturing facilities. But in actuality, it is a rare occurrence. Packaging a complete facility into a turnkey sale is usually for the restructuring and turnaround guys. For the auctioneer it usually requires just the right sized facility – not too big, not too small. And sometimes, as we recently found out, it happens when you least expect it.
The phone rang one February afternoon and on the end of the line was an unfamiliar, friendly, baritone voice of Jeff Tanenbaum of the Tiger Group. Jeff said that he was familiar with Schneider Industries and its reputation in the food processing industry.
He wanted to know if we would partner the Quantum Food project outside of Chicago with him. Without hesitations, we said sure.
Tiger had been involved in the deal in lending and appraisal capacities, so they were quite familiar with the project. They knew time would be of the essence based on the occupancy costs and that we needed a multi-faceted approach to maximize value from the assets. Jeff wanted to bring in a partner that would fortify his expertise and service capacity, while being of a quality and reputation that would not undermine the client relationship and he felt Schneider Industries fit the bill. Quantum Foods was launched more than two decades ago, as a hand-cut beef butcher. The company ultimately grew to an approximately 1,100-employee operation, supplying commercial accounts as well as overseas military bases. However, the recent withdrawal of troops in the Middle East, along with the loss of top retail clients, hurt its business operations, leading the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 18, 2014. Quantum Foods had three facilities located in Bolingbrook, Illinois – a 220,000-square-foot production facility, an 80,000-square-foot culinary facility, and a 250,000-square-foot cold-storage distribution
There were a number of competitors bidding for the project. It was highly competitive and required significant negotiations on terms and commitments. We ground it out and after hours of discussion, ultimately we were able to arrive at a deal.
Once we had approval, the Schneider Tiger team set out to prepare for auction, taking all the steps to make it happen in the tight timeline we were operating under. With thousands of lots spread over 600,000 square feet in three facilities, we knew we were going to have a whopper of a sale. We were planning for a three-day live webcast auction and we were anticipating that we would have several hundreds of people in attendance. Online registrations and pre-auction inquiries were significant leading up to the sale. Nonetheless, we continued to look for a turnkey buyer, as we thought that would be the best result for all the stakeholders, particularly the employees and the municipalities. But the consensus on our team was that there was a snowball‘s chance in hell that we could sell over 600,000 square feet of building and equipment prior to the auction.
We initiated a marketing campaign running parallel to our auction campaign specific to turnkey prospects using a variety of media and extensive telemarketing. Lo and behold, two strong bidders showed up to buy it turnkey.
Jeff said, “be careful what you wish for, because it just snowed in hell.”
In the end, the equipment and inventory in the three Bolingbrook facilities was sold as a turnkey operation to West Liberty Foods, L.L.C. in a $12.7 million transaction. In separate transactions also directed by the Schneider Tiger Team, West Liberty agreed to purchase the two production facilities and lease the distribution center. As a result of the transactions, the Schneider Tiger Team cancelled the live webcast auction and more importantly to the region, West Liberty planned to ramp up to 400- 600 employees at the Bolingbrook sites within the next 12-14 months.
Sometimes the best auction is the one you never have.
By Bruce Schneider
Schneider Industries Inc.
Local Client, Global Auctions Doing Business South of the Border
It’s amazing how in today’s world doing business locally can lead you all over the globe. At Schneider Industries, it was a local, domestic client that led us to open our Latin America Office under some interesting circumstances.
In 2002, we became aware that Mexico, Central and South America had potential to become a huge, market for buying and selling industrial equipment that remained largely untapped for American auction companies. For us, it all began with a local, US connection.
St. Louis-based Emerson Electric approached Schneider Industries about marketing and auctioning the equipment at their foundry in Torreon, Coahuilia, Mexico. Bruce Schneider, President of Schneider Industries replied, “We’ve never even been to Mexico”. In response, our clients at Emerson Electric indicated that they were aware of our history, outstanding references and successful results in the United States. Time was of the essence, and the decision was made to move forward with an auction event.
Back then, Mexico & Latin America were unfamiliar markets in our industry. Mexico & Latin America had not had a great deal of exposure to the American auction process. It seemed, at the time, that corporate America was just becoming familiar with the Mexico & Latin American business model. It was going to require understanding and communication between cultures to achieve success. It was with a leap of faith and courage that Schneider Industries took the challenge. At that point, we began to discover the opportunities and potential that these markets offered.
The Emerson Electric auction was a very successful event, but we quickly came to understand the difference in cultural dynamics.
We had advertised the auction to begin at 10:00 a.m. Checking our watches at 10:00 a.m., we realized that we had only two registered bidders in attendance – hardly enough for competitive bidding and a successful auction outcome.
We approached our on-site Emerson representative with apologies that the event was not going to successfully proceed with only two bidders. We indicated that we would refund to Emerson the auction marketing and operating expenses. Surprisingly, the representative was not concerned and we were told, “We (Emerson) have done a lot of work in Mexico, let’s just wait and see what happens in the next few hours”. To our surprise, 38 additional bidders arrived and ensured the success of this auction. The sale started a couple of hours past advertised time, but the delay was well worth the wait.
Additionally, Torreon, Mexico turned out to be a foundry hotbed. Companies from other area foundries sent their representatives and enthusiastically participated. In retrospect, many US equipment dealers, after watching the auction on-line and seeing the sales results, noted that a similar auction held in the US would most likely have generated sales of approximately 50% of the actual bring which was in excess of US$330,000.
Since that event in Torreon, we have conducted and managed multiple sales of equipment, real estate and complete plants for locations throughout Latin America. Some of these projects include a multimillion dollar sale for Effem de Mexico in Monterrey (Mars Corporation), the sale of equipment and real estate for Grupo Herdez in several Mexican locations, real estate for Takata in Monclova, an auction for Campbell’s Soup in Guasave, Sinaloa, an auction and plant decommissioning for Berry Plastics in Toluca, an auction for Elcoteq in Monterrey, plus the sale of a turn-key operation for Jae Gee Woods in Anauhac, Nuevo Laredo, to name just a few.
Our specialized, knowledgeable and reliable Latin American marketing and operations team has played a major role in all of these success stories. The emerging sales opportunities remain. We have become skilled in conducting business “south of the border.” We have familiarized ourselves with and overcome language, cultural, political, fiscal, legal and bureaucratic barriers along the way.
Mexico was our first step into the Latin American market. Our successes in Mexico led us to take on a successful multimillion dollar real estate and equipment sales project for Thermadyne in Brazil. Also, at this moment we are finalizing the sale of a 500,000 sq. ft. facility in Guatemala for Philip Morris.
Our experience in Mexico and South America has taught us the importance of being patient and flexible. Being able to adapt to new markets and different cultures, is the gateway for our future success in a global economy.
By Bruce Schneider
Schneider Industries Inc.
Texas Stadium Farewell
Schneider Industries Auctions Texas Stadium – Home of the Dallas Cowboys
It all started with an online auction event offering over 500 lots of Texas Stadium and Dallas Cowboys Memorabilia and Artifacts, and ended with the largest Farewell Fanfest Event, dedicated to the beloved Texas Stadium, home of the 5 time “World Champions.”
Schneider Industries, Inc. conducted and managed this three week auction event, which began November 17th and ended December 8th, 2008. Dallas Cowboys fans could bid on items including: the head coach’s sink that was used by legendary Tom Landry and every head coach since 1971; locker- room lockers and urinals; goal posts; section signs; turnstiles and everything and anything else that could be removed from the old stadium. These items were shipped to buyers along with a security hologram and certificate of authenticity. Hundreds of Cowboys fans experienced a Christmas they will never forget.
The weekend of February 21, 2009 began with lines of people waiting to enter the Corral to be one of the first to own a piece of the rich Texas Stadium history. The Texas Stadium Farewell Fanfest lasted Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with tens of thousands in attendance. Schneider Industries put on a once in a lifetime event, which included Dallas Cowboys players such as Drew Pearson, Mel Renfro, and Roy Williams signing autographs and taking pictures with fans, cheerleaders, past and present, and Rowdy in attendance sharing their favorite memories. There were concession stands, a kid’s zone, and the “Cowboys on Tour” trucks featuring the Hall of Fame and Merchandise trailers. Something for everyone was offered. Just to be in the Corral with all the excitement was enough to turn anyone into a Cowboys fan.
Items offered at the Farewell Event included something for everyone and at every price range: players’ lockers and complete seasons of locker name tags; game-used turf; stars from the famous blue wall surrounding the field; Texas, U.S. and Cowboys flags flown during games; autographed memorabilia, numbered and
signed; pieces of wall art with historical Cowboy players; locker tiles made from players’ lockers and branded with the Farewell Fanfest logo.
A silent auction ended the three-day event. Items such as Rowdy’s four wheeler, footballs, photos and field stars autographed by current and past players; Tony Romo’s and Emitt Smith’s lockers; and one lucky person won the rights to say they own the hole in the roof of Texas Stadium along with photo and certificate of authenticity.
This was not the first time Schneider put on an event of this size. Schneider Industries has also managed other stadium events including Old Tiger Stadium in Detroit and Busch Stadium in Saint Louis. Although Texas Stadium will be missed, now thanks to the efforts of Schneider Industries, many fans have a piece of Texas Stadium they can call their own and a few more memories of the historic venue!
By Bruce Schneider
Schneider Industries Inc.