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Joyce Endee

Environmental seeks to buy Isaacson warehouse business

Fabrication site gets clean report

January 25, 2012
BERLIN — Presby Environmental — a company owned and operated by North Country entrepreneur, inventor, and manufacturer David Presby — has made an offer to buy the assets of the Isaacson Steel warehouse business located in an industrial park on East Milan Road.

A hearing is scheduled on Tuesday, Jan. 31, in the U. S. Bankruptcy Court in Manchester. Some 20 employees are on the warehouse payroll, said Isaacson CEO Arnie Hanson in a Monday telephone interview.

"Our primary concern is to retain the jobs in Berlin and to grow and make this business profitable again," explained Jim McMahon of Whitefield, general manager of Presby Environmental, in another Monday telephone interview. "David (Presby) has many ideas on how to expand and develop the business and he and I both want to see the company remain in North Country hands."

So far, Presby Environmental is the only company to step up and make an offer, Hanson reported.

Finding a buyer for the far larger fabrication facility on Jericho Road essentially has been on hold, Hanson said. A very interested buyer — Heico Companies, LLC of Downers Grove, Ill. — decided to hold off making an offer until an environmental assessment and study could be completed on the property — a former city dump — on which Isaacson Steel was built some 30-plus years ago.

"I've read the report, and it's clean," said Hanson happily. He suggested that the City of Berlin might have to agree to take responsibility should any environmental problem ever arise from its former use, he explained, noting that, after all, the property had been owned and used by the city. "Isaacson has never had any problems with the property, and the company operated it as a clean 'green' site," he said.

Mayor Paul Grenier in his Jan. 16 inaugural address pledged that the city would "stand shoulder to shoulder" with Isaacson's present owners and assist in any possible to resolve "this very difficult situation." Grenier also said, "BIDPA — the Berlin Industrial Development Park Authority — stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars no matter how Isaacson exits bankruptcy."

Now that the report is in, Hanson anticipates renewed interest in the design and fabrication end of the business that would keep good-paying jobs in the Androscoggin Valley.

According to the bizyahoo.com website, the Heico Companies specializes in buying distressed companies and turning them around. The firm, which typically invests for the long haul, owns interests in about 45 companies in North America, Europe, and Asia, many manufacturers of industrial, commercial, institutional, or consumer products. Holdings include Davis Wire, Canadian steelmaker Ivaco, and heavy industrial equipment maker Pettibone, all bought out of bankruptcy. Heico also has interests in other companies in the metals processing and construction materials, as well as other unrelated industries.

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