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Managers take over Hess plant

January 12, 2001

Managers take over Hess plant



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


QUINCY, Pa. - Hess Manufacturing, a Quincy door and window factory that has been in operation since 1948, was saved from a sheriff's sale when four of the plant's top managers put together a funding package to buy the company.

It will be called Hess-Armaclad Inc. Armaclad is the trademark of Hess products, said Jeff Rock, president of the new company.

News that the 65-employee firm has been saved came at a press conference Friday morning with Rock and L. Michael Ross, executive director of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

"This is good news for Franklin County and for the employees of the former Hess Manufacturing," Ross said. "It will also dispel rumors about the company's closing or downsizing.

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"This company has been in a state of flux for the last 18 months, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train."

Hess Manufacturing, which was incorporated in 1948 when Harold Hess started making storm windows, shut down window production in the fall of 1999. Company officials blamed a changing market at the time, saying competition from large manufacturers who made less expensive windows.

"We're too small. We can't compete," Rock said at the time.

Rock was president of Hess manufacturing.

On Friday, Rock said the new company will become a distributor for the TRACO line of remodeling windows. It will continue to manufacture its own line of storm doors, entry and replacement doors and enclosure systems, rooms that are added to existing structures similar to a Florida room, Rock said.

The creation of Hess-Armaclad guarantees the 65 employees still working at the plant on Pa. 997 will keep their jobs.

In its heyday, Hess Manufacturing employed approximately 180 workers. About 130 lost their jobs with the shutdown of the window operation.

Rock praised the loyalty of the 65 workers who stayed with the company during the bad times.

"They knew their jobs were in jeopardy," he said.

Rock said he expects the company to start growing again and eventually add to its workforce. He could not be specific as to time and the number of new workers that may be added.

Hess Manufacturing filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 1999. The bankruptcy court judge approved the financing packaging put together by Rock and the three other managers, whom he declined to name.

Hess Manufacturing was being threatened with foreclosure by the bank when the four managers put together their financing package, Rock said. The process took about two years.

Ross said his agency has applied for a $200,000 state grant for Hess-Armaclad. He said the company will stay in business even if the application is denied.

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