Berkline/BenchCraft machinery to be auctioned
One of more than a dozen Accu-Router CNC
routers up for auction at Berkline/Benchcraft.
 

MORRISTOWN, TN -- Hilco Merchant Resources will hold a three-day auction June 22-24 on behalf of the bankruptcy estate of Berkline/BenchCraft Holdings, LLC. The sale will feature furniture manufacturing machinery, equipment, furniture and fixtures.

The auction is part of a tumultuous year that saw the 83-year old furniture manufacturer file Chapter 11 on May 2, 2011 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware after Berkline was unable to find a buyer or secure needed financing on acceptable terms to continue operations. The company had announced on March 30 its plans to close its furniture operation in Morristown and liquidate most of the company's assets.

Items for sale from three manufacturing facilities, a distribution center and corporate office complex include :

  • Accu-Routers CNC Routers
  • MBD M/N 4000 CNC Panel Saws
  • Vecoplan Chipper
  • Thermwood CNC Router
  • Holzma CNC Panel Saws
  • Thermwood Panel Routers

The closure eliminates some 602 jobs and the company was the object of at least three class action lawsuits filed by former workers, alleging the company violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN Act), when it failed to provide 60 days notice before a mass layoff or plant closing. The suits alleged that Berkline gave written notice of its intent to close the plant on the same day, March 30, that it shut down operations. Berkline LLC also stopped all wages and insurance to most employees as of April 6, 2011. Berkline and Sun Capital Partners, which acquired Berkline in 2007 were named in the lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court of Greenville. Each of the suits demand that employees receive 60 days of wages, unpaid 401K contributions and health insurance premiums for employees affected by the shutdown.

Berkline also is being sued for allegedly failing to pay its taxes. According to court records, a lien was filed in Hamblen County Chancery Court seeking $37,000 in taxes for 2010.

Berkline was founded in 1928 in Springfield, MA and moved to Morristown in 1937 and eventually consolidated operations there, according to the company history. In a statement issued in March, Berkline blamed weak furniture demand and a tough economy for its financial woes. The closure marks the end of furniture manufacturing in Morristown, once home to Berkline, Universal Bedroom, Imperial, Lawsons Industries, Lea Industries and others.

Related artcles on Woodworking Network:
Berkline files for bankruptcy protection (posted 5-3-11)

Blog: The Great Berkline Furniture Train Wreck (posted 5-1-11)

Employees sue Berkline over plant closing (posted 4-13-11)

Berkline/Benchcraft closing all operations (posted 3-30-11)

Posted by Jo-Ann Kaiser

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