If all goes as planned, by week’s end there will be a new owner or owners of all the assets of longtime Henrico-based Exhibits Inc.
And that suits co-owner Rich Chandler just fine, as he and his brother and business partner look to close the book on their 60-year-old family business after the pandemic forced it into bankruptcy in late September.
Started by Chandler’s father six decades ago, Exhibits was in the business of setting up the booths, tables and décor for trade shows, conventions and conferences. The business came to a screeching halt in March when COVID arrived in earnest and all big events were cancelled. And with a restart of such events still uncertain, the company was pushed into Chapter 7 liquidation.
A bankruptcy court-organized auction is underway offering to sell Exhibits in piece-meal fashion or all in one fell swoop.
Motleys Asset Disposition Group, which is handling the auction, is offering bidders four options: to buy only the inventory of Exhibit’s Richmond facility at 2505 Glen Center St.; to buy only the inventory of its Virginia Beach warehouse; to buy only Exhibits’ name, website, client list and other intellectual property; and lastly, to buy all of the above.
Sealed bids are due tomorrow, Dec. 1, at 1 p.m.
“Fingers crossed we’ll get a couple of bucks that’ll get some creditors satisfied,” Chandler said.
The inventory includes all sorts of equipment it used to set up events such as booths and booth piping, rolls of carpet, drapes and tables and chairs. Those items made up the bulk of the $1.5 million in assets Exhibits listed in its initial bankruptcy filing. It also listed debts of $421,000, with its largest creditors being the landlords on its two warehouses in Richmond and Virginia Beach. It also owes Wells Fargo on a line of credit.
Chandler said they’ve had nibbles from folks looking at all the various purchase scenarios, but that he and his brother Jeff would prefer if someone buys the whole lot and keeps the brand going.
“There is a value to that Exhibits name,” he said. “I think it’d be cool to see that go on.”
Jeremy Lehman, who’s handling the auction for Motleys, agrees.
“Ideally, we’d like to see it continue to be an operating business,” Lehman said.
A two-day in-person preview of the inventory was held last week and while there wasn’t a ton of foot traffic amidst a pandemic, Lehman said interest has been flowing in.
“There are a lot of companies out of state that can’t make the preview but yet know the company and are interested in being able to come into the market. We’ve actually had more interest in buying in the entirety.
“The business holds weight. They have a great reputation and one heck of a client list,” he said.
Lehman said the winning bid must be approved by the bankruptcy estate and they hope to have a decision made on that winning bid by the end of the week at the latest.
He said they are under some pressure as Exhibits’ landlord in Richmond needs the company and its gear out of the space by mid-December.
Exhibits is represented in its bankruptcy by attorney Kevin Funk of Durrette, Arkema, Gerson & Gill. Bill Broscious is Exhibits’ Chapter 7 trustee. Judge Kevin Huennekens is presiding over the case.