With nary a whisper and little of the speculation that normally precedes bankruptcy filings and other major business changes, commercial strength equipment manufacturer Body Masters Sports Industries Inc. has filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette/Opelousas.
Despite the filing, a spokesman for 24-year-old Body Masters said he expects to emerge from the case without missing a beat.
"This filing is just a way to give us the ability to reorganize our debts -- nothing more," Brian Bille, marketing director for the Rayne, La.-based, Body Masters, told SNEWSÂ®. "It is business as usual for us and, despite what some may say, we are not going anywhere."
Mike Morris, president and founder of stability ball training and product company Resist-a-Ball, left a partnership with Spri Products earlier this year to join Body Masters in a partnership (see SNEWSÂ® story, April 22, 2004, "Resist-A-Ball, Spri end licensing agreement"). Morris is from Louisiana, and additional impetus for the deal was his desire to return to that area. Morris told SNEWSÂ® he was given a 90-day notice of termination of the arrangement in mid-November, as the contract required. Nevertheless, he said he knew nothing about the reorganization filing until the company called him with the news Jan. 13, two days after the filing.
"I was shocked that they were going Ch. 11," Morris said. "Our industry probably does not realize how tough the surge in steel prices have made it on companies manufacturing steel products. Body Masters is a reputable companyÂ that has been around for the longÂ time. They make quality equipment and have a very dedicated, hard working management team.Â IÂ am confident they will recover."
According to court documents obtained by SNEWSÂ®, Body Masters filed for protection with the court Jan. 11. The top 20 unsecured creditors are owed approximately $3.9 million, and the list is led by Bank of Commerce & Trust Co. of Rayne, La., owed $2.6 million; Ryerson Tull Inc. of Dallas, Texas, $474,000; and Star Trac by Unison, which is owed $93,000, the papers state.
In addition, the court documents filed by Body Masters state the company expects to have funds to pay unsecured creditors. The first meeting of creditors is set for March 1 at 11 a.m.