Buyer found for Mt. Pleasant glass company

After a nearly three-month search, a buyer has been found for the financially troubled L.E. Smith Glass Co. in Mt. Pleasant.

"This is good news, of course, and the buyer is proceeding with his due diligence as we speak," said Mark DuMars, president of Inglewood Associates, based in Mt. Lebanon, Allegheny County.

DuMars did not disclose the name of the potential buyer, but he said Smith Glass has entered into a letter of intent with the unidentified party, who plans to buy all of the company's operating assets and run the facility.

DuMars was appointed in July as a receiver, or administrator, of the Smith Glass business by U.S. District Court Judge Terrence McVerry.

The news was warmly welcomed by the United Steelworkers union, which represents hourly workers at the plant.

"It certainly looks promising, and the company may be able to recover. For my members' sake, I certainly hope so," said Jim Watt, a staff representative for United Steelworkers, which represents about 43 hourly workers who produce handmade glass at the factory. Watt also declined to divulge the name of the potential buyer.

DuMars said he couldn't disclose details of the sale because of confidentiality provisions of the letter of intent.

L.E. Smith initially ceased production June 30, idling the plant's 57 workers.Glassmaking operations resumed on a limited basis in mid-August, however, when about 30 workers were recalled to make glass to keep the company's core customer base intact.

Bowling Green, Ohio-based Sky Bank filed a federal lawsuit in July against American Glass Inc., the parent of Smith Glass, claiming the 97-year-old glassmaker defaulted on a loan by failing to make payments.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, sought a judgment of $4.6 million plus interest, costs and attorneys' fees.

Sky Bank is the company's primary lender. More than two years ago, Sky Bank loaned $2.9 million to the glassmaker to modernize and rebuild a 21-ton furnace that is fueled by natural gas and oxygen.

The bank also had extended a line of credit to Smith Glass, which the company exceeded by an estimated $500,000.

The filing of the lawsuit allowed the federal court to proceed with a receivership plan, a legal alternative to a bankruptcy filing.

600450 Buyer found for Mt. Pleasant glass company
Date: 24 September 2004

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