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Glass Plant to Restart (Posted On: Tuesday, May 17, 2011)

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Centre for Business and Economic Development is very pleased to announce that the Collingwood Glass plant has been bought by 2 investors. They plan to restart the plant as soon  as possible. The deal was completed in very dramatic form on Wednesday May 4th .

The Centre for Business set up an action group to deal with the receivership and sale of the former Barber Glass assets.

Group members are Dr. Martin Oosterveld, Chair of the Board, Tillie MacDonald, General Manager, Mel Walker an industrialist, and Joe Gardhouse, council member Town of Collingwood. The group was able to attract an investor who competed for the original bid to the receiver but his plan to run the company was not accepted.

The action group was initially very discouraged when the receiver appointed Danbury Services to auction off the plant. Shortly after that announcement in February a partner in the auction, GMR Belgium came to Collingwood. The owner Johan Coenen was retained for his world recognized expertise in the glass business. Fortunately he recognized that the plant was worth more if it was kept intact and he set out to try to attract a buyer for the entire package.

Mr. Coenen described the plant as a ‘pearl’ and stated that a bankruptcy of this calibre only comes along once in a lifetime. The plant is capable of producing tempered, laminated and insulated glass to a maximum size of 130in.x240in. There is no other plant in North America that can match this jumbo glass capacity. Only two plants come close, one is located in the US and another in Mexico. All architects who design iconic buildings will want to use this product.

The comments by the expert for the sellers encouraged the action team to work as hard as possible to find investors willing to take the risk of buying the plant. Over a period of 2 months Mel Walker used his extensive network of contacts to find prospects. Johan Coenen made many contacts through his glass industry data base. Several times it appeared that an agreement was close, only to see hopes dashed at the last minute by some complication. Along the way there was huge and constant pressure from Danbury Services who wanted to see a sale completed as fast as possible.

The process came to a very dramatic conclusion, when it appeared that a deal was complete just before Easter only to crash a day before the scheduled close. So now the auction was scheduled for May 4th and the action team was preparing for the worst. On auction day the unpredictable final turn came when the two investors outbid all others and bought all the assets they needed to run the plant as a going concern.

The winning bid was lead by Richard Wilson who had been engaged in the construction of the plant from its original start. He was the largest customer for the glass which he uses when he builds iconic homes for his exclusive client base. He is also a Collingwood native and wants to see the community thrive. His investment partner is Gordon Tozer who resides in Caledon.

The Centre for Business congratulates the new owners and looks forward to working with them on developing the business. This will be the first time we have seen a plant go from death to a rebirth in the same business. We look forward to using this success for more ventures in the future. 


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