Due in part to what it says is a dispute with one of its biggest customers, a local sign company has shut down and gone into bankruptcy.
Acorn Sign Graphics filed for Chapter 7 liquidation on Wednesday and ceased operations.
“While recovering from COVID and supply chain difficulties the company was unable to prevail in a contract payments dispute with its largest customer, LL Flooring (formerly Lumber Liquidators). The resulting liquidity crisis forced closure of the company,” Acorn said in a prepared statement.
It added that it hopes to pursue a claim against Henrico-based LL Flooring through the bankruptcy court.
Based at 4109 W. Clay St. just west of Scott’s Addition, the company in its current incarnation has been owned for nearly 20 years by husband-and-wife Steve and Beth Gillispie.
“We are deeply saddened by the hardship in this situation for our stakeholders, 43 employees, vendors and customers,” the company’s statement added. “The legacy we hope remains echoes our vision: to have enhanced the human experience in the built environment and provided a place where our employees would flourish.”
Acorn is represented in its bankruptcy case by Richmond law firm Spiro & Browne.
Its initial bankruptcy filing lists assets of $500,000-$1 million and liabilities of $1 million-$10 million, owed to nearly 300 creditors. The filing does not include amounts owed to specific creditors.
The bankruptcy marks an abrupt end to what had been one of the region’s fastest-growing companies. Five years ago, Acorn was named to the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest growing companies with $6 million in revenue.
Some of that growth was fueled by acquisitions, including a deal it made to buy its way into the Northern Virginia market.
The dispute with LL Flooring apparently stems from a soured relationship after the publicly traded flooring retailer hired Acorn to make and install new signage as it transitioned away from the Lumber Liquidators brand.
At some point during the pandemic the relationship became frayed, with both sides claiming they were owed money by the other. The amount of money in question was apparently large enough to cause an insurmountable cash crunch at Acorn.
A request for comment sent to LL Flooring was not returned Wednesday evening.
Neither side has yet filed any formal litigation in the matter.
Acorn is represented in its pre-bankruptcy dispute with LL Flooring by Genevieve Bradley and EG Allen of law firm Roth Jackson.
“My client has done so much good for its community and its employees and so it is saddened to have to pursue protections in bankruptcy,” Bradley said in an emailed statement. “My client remains hopeful, however, that its contractual rights can be vindicated in the bankruptcy proceedings.”