Close shave: American Safety Razor says it'll emerge from bankruptcy
American Safety Razor, the shaving discounter that employs hundreds in Verona, has announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while it seeks a buyer.
The firm's woes appear to stem from a heavy debt load since, according to the Wall Street Journal, the company's 2006 purchase by London-based private-equity firm Lion Capital LLP was accomplished by taking on debt approximating two-thirds of the $658 million price.
A July 28 company press release notes $30 million in cash reserves, access to another $25 million, and predicts meeting all obligations to customers, suppliers, and employees. A story in the Staunton News Leader noted that 20 employees were laid off in 2008, but the reporter was unable to obtain any statement about the fate of the current employees or the viability of the Verona manufacturing plant, one of three operated by the firm, which also does business as Personna American Safety Razor.
Already, the firm has shown there are some measures it won't take to trim its debt. Earlier this year, the company's Verona shipping dock received a shipment including 1,800 pounds of marijuana. According to NBC29, the Augusta County sheriff was unable to determine the intended shipper or receiver of the pot valued over $2 million. Therefore the near ton of evidence was burned–- supposedly by an industrial incinerator at an undisclosed location.
In addition to serving as manufacturer for many drugstore, supermarket, and big box house-branded blades and razors–- not to mention the B'kini for women and the Bump Fighter for African-American men–- the company also makes tools and blades for industrial and medical applications.
One company icon, the Flicker razor for women, didn't make it to the financial restructuring. A unique disposable containing five blades inside a contraption resembling a birth-control pill dispenser, Flicker reportedly became America's top ladies razor shortly after its 1971 introduction. But styles changed, and Flicker was retired from the market in 2006.
In the 1990s, J. Gray Ferguson, an American Safety Razor owner living in Charlottesville, cashed out millions during a prior sale of the company, and then he proceeded to invest in a chain of stock brokerages as well as in the now-defunct Charlottesville Observer newspaper.
–this story was expanded at 2:43pm on Tuesday, August 10