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New York tableware manufacturer emerges from Chapter 11

The face and thrust of a business can change many times, especially with a business that competes worldwide and across decades. That was the case with a dinnerware manufacturer in New York. The company, which is now the only remaining manufacturer of forks, knives and spoons in the United States, was actually started back in 1880 by a utopian group, Oneida Community, in Sherrill, New York.

In 2005 Oneida Ltd. transitioned into Sherrill Manufacturing under new ownership. The business has experienced highs and lows over the course of its long history, but a combination of international competition and the Great Recession left Sherrill's owners with a choice: throw in the towel or keep the business alive through Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In 2010 the owners opted for the latter, and after selling off some assets and restructuring the business model, Sherrill Manufacturing has emerged from bankruptcy. The company sold manufacturing equipment, extra inventory and a 1-million-square-foot plant to pay back $4 million to secured lenders, and the company that bought the plant leased 240,000 square feet back to Sherrill.

The flatware manufacturer also owed $2 million in unsecured debt, and now the company has a repayment plan for that debt, too.

The owners are optimistic about the future. They have already begun appealing directly to a niche market of consumers who want high quality tableware made in the U.S. With a new website, the owners expect online sales to reach $800,000 this year, with a 50 percent increase next year.

A commitment to the community and to U.S. manufacturing played a major role in the owners' decision to seek bankruptcy protection. New York business owners with similar concerns will also want to be aware of their debt relief options.

Source: syracuse.com, "Sherrill Manufacturing, America's only remaining flatware maker, emerges from bankruptcy with a new focus," Rick Moriarty, Nov. 15, 2013

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