Former Statton Furniture building sold

January 16, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

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HAGERSTOWN -- The former Statton Furniture Manufacturing Co. in Hagerstown was sold for $650,000 Friday.

The sale was made at about 4:30 p.m., after an initial auction failed to produce results 3 1/2 hours earlier, said Thomas E. Bikle, director of real estate for J.G. Cochran Auctioneers & Associates Ltd.

Bikle said the buyer of the building, whose identity probably won't be released until Monday, is from Frederick, Md.

The factory was to be mothballed after no one wanted to pay the $600,000 minimum asking price during the initial auction, Bikle said.

"Then, we had two parties come forward and say they were interested," he said.

Bikle said he doesn't know how the building will be used.

"It all happened kind of fast," he said.

Hunt Hardinge, Statton Furniture president, said he was surprised that no one bought the building earlier in the day.

About 200 people were in the factory when the auction began at 1 p.m.


"I thought it was a fair price," Hardinge said. "For the building alone, that's almost $3 a foot," Hardinge said.

The sale included the 185,000-square-foot building and about 4 acres of land at 504 E. First St. in Hagerstown.

The assessed value of the land and building is about $1.2 million, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

After the initial auction to sell the building ended, other items in the factory, including machinery, saw blades, oil cans and furniture parts, were sold to the highest bidder. Some of the machines were still surrounded by sawdust from their final use.

Hardinge said the factory closed late last year because Statton couldn't compete with cheaper manufacturing costs in foreign countries.

Statton Furniture had been in business since 1926.

In its heyday in the mid-1980s, Statton Furniture employed about 200 people, Hardinge said. That number continued to dwindle until the last of the supervisors was let go in December.

The toughest part of the process, Hardinge said, was laying off people who had worked at Statton Furniture for 30 years.

"I'm sure next week it's going to hit hard," said Hardinge, as auction-goers carted equipment from the factory to awaiting trucks outside.

Denny Bowers, president the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Local 472, the union that represented some of the employees at Statton Furniture, looked on as people bid on the machinery that he operated over the last 25 years.

"Everyone could do any job," Bowers said. "We learned to be versatile to help cut costs. It just wasn't enough."

The factory employed more than 165 people when Bowers was hired to "fire the boilers," he said. "I was No. 167."

Of the final 27 union employees, about five have found jobs, Bowers said. Some accepted reduced hours elsewhere.

He said there was no severance package.

"Most of us are living on unemployment," Bowers said.

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