The investors behind Imperial Schrade surprised even the company's executive management by shutting its doors on Friday, July 30. Just like that, 250 workers in the town of Ellenville, N.Y., were out of work. This came on the heels of a layoff of 120 individuals in December 2003.
SNEWSÂ® contacted Dave Staples of the Images Group, Schrade's PR firm, to see if an official statement was forthcoming and were told that despite requests, Schrade officials continued to remain silent.
Repeated calls to company president Wally Gardiner went unreturned.
Insiders we were able to talk to told us that there was no warning. Yes, everyone knew the company was in difficulty, we were told, and that the company blamed the 9/11 attacks and the heightened security for putting a dent in the pocketknife market. The company was also facing increased competition from China and big-box stores demanding lower prices. However, company executives had been working on a financing package and when it fell through insiders speculated to us that perhaps the private investors felt they had no alternative.
Still, the suddenness of the move left a sour taste in most mouths. Retailers have been left hanging waiting for orders. Creditors are left wondering if they will ever get paid. And employees are wondering what just hit them.
SNEWSÂ® View: Reading between the lines of what insiders told us and what a little investigative digging on our part revealed, we would suspect that Imperial Schrade's name and assets are being negotiated for sale as we speak. Perhaps we'll know more in 30 days or so. The name does have cache and value, as do many of the assets, and in the right hands, a company could make a go of retaining the brand equity. Apparently, the investors believe that filing bankruptcy is not the best option for them. Our bet is that the investors feel they can garner enough from the sale to pay off creditors and pocket a little change -- at least we imagine that's the plan. As for the employees, they deserve much more respect than they got. Shame on Schrade's owners for such behavior. We can only hope that karma reaps its just rewards. Â