North Country firm makes offer for some of Isaacson Steel

Isaacson Steel Inc. wants to sell off some of its warehouse business for $225,000, but the fate of the larger bankrupt company – Berlin-based Isaacson Structural Steel Inc. — is still up in the air, according to recent bankruptcy court filings in Manchester.Presby Steel LLC, a newly formed corporation that will be run by Presby Environmental Inc. in Whitefield, plans to continue the Berlin warehouse operation, which has about $4 million in sales and employs about 20 people, selling steel to various construction companies.The bankruptcy court still needs to approve the proposed sale. A hearing is set for the end of the month to do so.Isaacson Structural Steel Inc. (ISSI) and its affiliate, Isaacson Steel Inc. (ISI) filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on June 22.ISSI is the larger entity, involved in providing steel for buildings throughout New England, including the 20-plus story Liberty Mutual building being built in Boston, a $24 million project. There are still several buyers interested in that larger entity, but no offers have been made public, according to those involved with the bankruptcy.Back in June, ISSI owed twice as much as it owned — a $12.6 million gap.ISI’s balance sheet was a little more positive, with $2.78 million in assets and $2.26 million in liabilities, but the two companies are intertwined, since ISSI owes ISI $1.6 million.Presby Steel would only be buying ISI’s warehouse business, not the company. The sale would not include debts, receivables and $100,000 cash.”We bundled what we could in order to save the jobs,” said William Gannon, a Manchester-based attorney for the bankrupt Isaacson estate. “That’s really why we are doing this.”The warehouse would not be bid on in a bankruptcy auction, but St. Johnsbury, Vt.-based Passumpsic Bank, which holds a lien on both businesses, would be able to place a “credit bid” on the property.Passumpsic pushed Isaacson into bankruptcy after freezing the company’s assets last year. Indeed, last week the bank filed an objection to continue operating the warehouse because it was losing money, arguing that the bank would have less cash to collect on the shell that will remain behind.The bankruptcy court, however, ruled on Monday that it would allow the company to continue operating while it was being sold.Presby Environmental, a Sugar Hill company that does onsite wastewater septic treatment, was started by David Presby, an inventor and entrepreneur. Presby’s father started Presby Construction, a general contractor that builds steel buildings and has other side businesses.”There will be some synergies that could lead to expansion,” said David McMahon, general manager of Presby Environmental. “But our main objective is to maintain employment.”ISSI, which last year employed as many as 160 people, is the state’s 16th largest privately owned company, according to NHBR’s 2012 Book of Lists.– BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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