Arch CEO provides post-bankruptcy picture of company
On Feb. 1, officials from Arch Aluminum & Glass Co., Tamarac, Fla., announced the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, following the asset purchase by Arch Glass Acquisition Corp., an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners. Below is an exclusive interview with Arch President and CEO Leon Silverstein about the bankruptcy process, the status of the company and the 2010 outlook.
How did the bankruptcy process go?
It went exactly how we expected. Things don’t always go according to plan, and there are always things that can happen. Thankfully, this time, it all did go according to plan. The process went through within the time frame. Everybody here did a good job of getting it done.
What role does Arch Glass Acquisition now have in the company?
They are owners. They are stock holders. They are not involved in operations, and they don’t have employees that are sitting here in the office. But they are board members and involved from a strategic standpoint.
Can you provide a current picture of the company?
We are a new company that has exited bankruptcy. We are a new company with good financing and good positioning to be a viable supplier to the industry in what will be a very challenging year. … I have a lot of humility. This has been a very emotional process over the last six months. A lot of industries have gone through this—the steel industry, the airline industry. Now our industry, and our company, has gone through it, and we’re now at the good part. Now we have to manage the company well, and we will be positioned to be one of the stronger guys when the economy comes back.
What are your 2010 projections for the industry?
I don’t think there is going to be an upside on sales in 2010. Companies are going to have to continue to develop new products, even if they’re not going to be able to start selling until 2012 or 2013. We’re going to have to work on R&D and product development. And watching costs—that’s going to be the Holy Grail. We’re going to service our customers very well and hope to maintain or pick up market share.
The industry is going to go through a change, because it is going to be very weak year for construction. Look at the Architectural Billings Index [from the American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C.] There are large architectural firms that are still laying off employees.
In 2010, we [at Arch] need to keep positioning the company for the future. It will be really important to have a strategy in 2010. You can’t say, I will sell, and they will come. You need new product development strategies. We have to think strategy, because it’s not business as normal.
What has this experience taught you?
One thing I’ve learned from this is that relationships and loyalty are not dead. If they were dead, we would not have made it through. It’s because of those relationships that [the company] is able to be successful. … Throughout this experience, our employees have been great, and the customers have been unbelievable. We didn’t lose a customer—we maybe lost orders, but not customers. This was a time that some customers helped us. Our two biggest assets throughout this process have been our employees and customers.