Meadowcraft

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Meadowcraft (formerly Birmingham Ornamental Iron) was a manufacturer of outdoor furniture headquartered at 4700 Pinson Valley Parkway, near the intersection with Carson Road in Birmingham.

The company was founded by B. F. Meadow in 1923 as a manufacturer of iron gates, stairways and fire escapes. It added outdoor furniture to its product portfolio during the housing boom of the 1940s. The company distributed its products by direct mail to furniture dealers across the region and, by 1957, was one of the top wrought-iron furniture manufacturers in the United States, shipping to all 50 states and several other nations. Samuel Blount merged a portfolio of smaller companies under the Meadowcraft name in the mid 1980s and engineered a distribution deal with Wal-Mart Stores. Sales peaked in 1995 at just over $120 million and by 1998 the company's furniture products were stocked in 9 of America's 10 largest retailers. As late as 2008 Meadowcraft remained the largest American manufacturer of outdoor wrought-iron furniture, with approximately 2,000 employees.

In 2008 the company closed its Pinson Valley Parkway factory and consolidated its manufacturing operations at its plant in Wadley (Randolph County). Administrative functions, design, prototyping and customer service remained in Birmingham along with a 342,000 square-foot warehouse. Cushions and umbrellas were fabricated at another facility in Selma. During this time CFO Larry Maynor committed fraud by misrepresenting a consignment agreement as a sales contract.

In 2009 Blount returned as CEO, replacing Jerry Camp. The number of employees at the Wadley plant dwindled that Spring, but no formal announcements were made. In March of that year. with debts of $63.7 million, a group of creditors forced the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. A management group began efforts to buy the company, but was unable to prevent liquidation. The lenders subsequently filed a lawsuit against former executives, alleging fraud. Blount responded he fired those responsible as soon as the fraud was discovered, and that if the company had been allowed to continue operating through the Spring, it would have earned enough to settle its debts.

On July 27 the Plantation Patterns division, which manufactures cushions and umbrellas in Selma, was purchased by Home Casual of Fitchburg, Wisconsin. In September the Southern Sales and Marketing Group of Atlanta, Georgia created an LLC to purchase the Meadowcraft name, design patents and Wadley manufacturing facilities. The company subsequently shuttered its Pinson Valley warehouse, ending its operations in the Birmingham District.

References

  • DeButts, Jimmy (December 28, 2007) "Meadowcraft consolidating furniture plants." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Hubbard, Russell (March 28, 2009) "Alabama town Wadley scared about Meadowcraft factory's future." The Birmingham News
  • Tomberlin, Michael (May 1, 2009) "Meadowcraft bankruptcy case final hearing set for May 10." The Birmingham News
  • Tomberlin, Michael (July 24, 2009) "Liquidation sale of Meadowcraft assets, slated for Friday, puts fate of 1,300 workers in hands of a Delaware bankruptcy judge." The Birmingham News
  • Tomberlin, Michael (October 1, 2009) "Meadowcraft has shut down its Birmingham operation." The Birmingham News
  • Bacak, Stanley (November 6, 2010) "Details emerge about demise of Meadowcraft, the outdoor furniture maker in Wadley." Anniston Star

External links