In The News: January 7, 2010

Latham Files Chapter 11, Will Continue To Operate

Latham International filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Dec. 22, 2009, with the intention of restructuring its debt through a pre-packaged reorganization plan.

"The purpose of our filing is very narrowly defined," says Mark Laven, CEO of Latham. "It is to restructure our debt. We don't have any other objectives in this filing. We took the action voluntarily and were not forced into bankruptcy."

According to Laven, the industry's decline over the past few years has played a role in the company's decision.

"We put this business together at a time when the economy and the industry were at much different levels of demand, and when the credit markets were very different. Now with the lower volumes and lower levels of profitability, we think the best thing to do in the interest of our customers and our employees is to restructure our business so we can get out from under the debt burden, which is outsized to the current demand in our industry."

Viking, Coverstar and other Latham brand names will be unaffected by the move, says Laven: "Those businesses are continuing to operate in the normal course. They are open, they are producing product and they are receiving raw materials from their vendors and making shipment to their customers. We expect that to continue."

Laven wants to make certain the industry knows the company is not going out of business. "That is a very important statement," he says. "We are simply restructuring our debt under Chapter 11. We are doing this in order to become more financially stable and to ensure the long-term success of the business.

"In order to ensure that we go on for another 53 years, as we have historically, we have to take this action for the benefit of our customers. The company is operating very well, in my view. Our pricing is competitive, our quality is high and our lead time is low.

"Our issues had nothing to do with our performance as a business, in fact I think we are increasing our market share. We outperformed the market in 2009. Our issues had to do with the way our balance sheet was structured, the way we capitalized. That's what we are dealing with right here."

Wilbar Acquires Delair Assets

Wilbar International recently announced the acquisition of some Delair Group assets. According to the Wilbar, the acquisition will increase the company's international production capabilities by 30 percent, using Delair's equipment to broaden its line of aluminum pools, decks and fencing.

Some Delair products will merge into the Wilbar product line, and they will be sold under the Premier Aluminum Pool brand name. Wilbar says it will also assume all of the Delair pool warranty responsibilities, allowing current dealers to support their customers with continuous protection. All products will be shipped from Wilbar's Hauppauge, N.Y., facility.

Wilbar says all steel pool models and accessories, including vacuum poles will be discontinued. Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller, original Delair brand names, were not a part of the agreement.

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