On Wednesday Illinois company Big Shoulders Capital purchased Harden Furniture. Big Shoulders is a lending company, but also operates, and sometimes liquidates companies. Former owners Miramar Capital Partners used Harden’s assets to secure a loan from a company called Gemcap. Harden Furniture's CEO’s Greg Harden says that’s where things went bad.
"The intention was to re-finance the loan, to inject some equity into the company. That didn’t happen, so we’ve been struggling for 20 months with an onerous difficult expensive loan, and it finally caught up with us."
Harden suspended production and sent all their employees home after handing out WARN Notices. Right now the future of the company sits on Big Shoulders, but it can’t sit there for long without taking some kind of action.
"It would be very difficult for us to be in this situation with production suspended for very long. For one thing our most talented folks almost certainly will have new jobs within a week. As we all know the labor market right now it pretty tight and the quality of the employee that we had would be very much in demand."
Now the employees are anxiously waiting to hear the next move. Monica Eckhard is a former employee. She talked about what the furniture maker means to the area.
"Harden’s meant a lot to this community. It brought in a lot of jobs for this company and there’s people that have been working there 30 years, 20 years. They just lost their lifetime job."
Big Shoulders Capital has to weigh the options of shutting the company down versus keeping production going, and there’s a lot of money at stake.
Greg Harden, CEO Harden Furniture: "Between product that is finished and just waiting for trucking, or product that is on order and we’re just waiting to start production, it’s about a $1.6 million backlog. It’s as good a backlog as we’ve had in quite some time."
Stopping production would likely be a costly decision, but there’s also the option of selling off all the assets and walking away completely. If the new company plans on continuing operations, they’re likely going to do it here.
"I’m optimistic but I’m a little apprehensive as well. If they’re going to continue operations they’re going to do it here. There really isn’t an option to move our operations elsewhere, and given our order book and given the success we’ve had of late, I would hope that that would persuade them to continue operations here."
Big Shoulders Capital hasn’t released any information about what their plans are for the furniture maker, but Greg Harden does expect there to be some kind of news in the next couple days.