Best Manufacturing Group files for Chapter 11

Aug 12, 2006 2:19 AM  By

Jersey City, NJ-based Best Manufacturing Group, a uniform company founded in 1914, announced this week it filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for New Jersey in Newark. Best Manufacturing has operations in Massachusetts, Georgia, Mississippi, Illinois, Texas, Nevada; the Chapter 11 filing does not affect the company’s subsidiaries in Mexico, Canada, and Cambodia.

Despite recent organizational improvements, Best Manufacturing came under heavy demands from its lenders, forcing liquidity pressures that led to the filing, according to spokesman Ari Korman. “There were also some issues with integrating past acquisitions” including Artex International and Baker Linen, he says. “We’ve definitely been burdened with lack of funds to be able to go forward and grow. We did a refinancing in March and not long after the bank group began to act a little irrational. This will give us a fresh start and really make this better for everyone involved.”

Best Manufacturing Group, which launched a Website in March to supplement its print catalogs, serves the hospitality, napery, textile rental, healthcare, and image-apparel markets. Korman says the company’s customer base numbers around 6,000. Just last month the company launched a new service apparel catalog that integrates the Best and Artex lines under under the Best name. The new service apparel catalog sells a variety of workwear ranging from aprons and wraparounds, to chef coats and smocks, to surgeon’s gowns and lab coats.

The company is looking at six months to a year to reorganize, Korman says. “The reorganization is based on a plan we put together going back to June 30. We’ve been implementing the plan since. We look to come out of this reorganized with a healthier and stronger company, more nimble and better able to handle our customer’s needs.”

Best Manufacturing’s transformation strategy includes shifting more business to Cambodia; increasing overseas purchases; closing facilities in King of Prussia, PA, and Mahwah, NJ; reducing manufacturing at the Cordele, GA-based facility; launching a new hospitality apparel line; and consolidating healthcare and institutional into one institutional division. “We will continue normal business operations and, hopefully, even build on that through our restructuring,” Korman says.