Another firm hires ex-BrandPartners employees


Another trio of ex-BrandPartners employees are trying capture some of the old firm's business. This one calls itself Sterling Retail, which will be a New England division of Sterling ATM out of Utah.Jim VanderMale, former executive vice president of Business development for BrandPartners, will head up the venture, which will based in Dover. He will be joined by Dan Fleckenstein, former vice president and design director, and Heidi McGuigan, former director of program management."We developed a relationship with the customers. They understand (the closing of BrandPartners wasn’t our fault," said VanderMaleBrandPartners, a Rochester-based public company that designed bank interiors, shut its doors suddenly on April 16, throwing 50 people out of work. The company – once known as Willey Brothers -- laid off or furloughed 30 other workers the month before. The state Department of Labor is investigating whether any laws were violated.BrandPartners had built up more than $10 million in debt over the last decade, traced back to a leveraged buyout a decade ago.Most of the money was owed to Kuwaiti lenders, but TD Bank had first position on a $3 million loan, and it sold some of the company’s assets to Identity Group, a sign company out of Tennessee. Identity hired three former BrandPartners employees to focus on community banks and said it plans to add on others as independent contractors, as neededSterling Retail didn’t buy any BrandPartners assets, just hired the ex-employees. It plans to go after all size banks and expects to compete against their former coworkers at Identity, said VanderMale. If there is enough business, Sterling hopes to hire back some former BrandPartners workers, not just contract with them."We are trying to keep talented people together," VanderMale said.BrandPartners shares closed at 0.4 cents in Monday trading, unchanged from last week’s close. -- BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW
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