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Kennedy Manufacturing Emerges from Chapter 11

A little more than a year after seeking bankruptcy protection, tool storage manufacturer Kennedy Manufacturing Company emerged from Chapter 11 pursuant to a plan of reorganization approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio Western Division.

Hit hard by the tough manufacturing economy, global competition and correspondingly tighter requirements with its bankers, Kennedy filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2004. Skyrocketing steel prices the past year added yet new levels of challenge for the nearly 100-year-old company with a strong niche reputation among industrial users for its signature steel tool boxes.

Since early 2004 the company has shut down a plant in Indiana and one in Ohio, consolidating operations at one plant in Van Wert, OH, running three shifts. The company reduced staffing by one-third to 200 full-time employees, two-thirds of the reduction coming in salaried positions.

"Effective Apr. 1, our reorganization plan and financing were in place," said David R. Thompson, president and CEO of Kennedy. "Our first priority is to restore our customer service, rebuild the strong relationships we've had with distributors. Everyone at Kennedy is pleased to be out of Chapter 11 and looking forward to being able to devote their full attention to executing the company's strategic plan for growth and profitability. This has been a difficult transition for Kennedy employees; their hard work and dedication during this period has been critical."

Thompson is optimistic on growth prospects ahead: "I strongly believe the industrial maintenance market is underserved, and we have developed a variety of tool storage products to support lean manufacturing efforts. Our efforts going forward include helping our distributors offer solutions to the maintenance market, in addition to the traditional metal removal markets where we have traditionally held strong positions."

Kennedy has itself emerged from the process leaner, Thompson said, and is working to reduce its cycle times and respond faster. "I am especially grateful that we have retained our industrial customer and vendor base during the reorganization. We have implemented numerous measures to improve production efficiency and increase customer satisfaction. Our new financing arrangements will allow us to continue and grow as one of the premier suppliers of industrial tool storage in the U.S."

Kennedy Manufacturing Company, founded in 1911, provides a wide range of quality steel industrial tool storage equipment worldwide and currently has 200 full-time employees. It has two divisions: MarkHon, which designs and manufactures special order metal tool cabinets for automotive vans, consoles and workstations for computer equipment and commercial flight centers; and Blue Bell Bio-Medical, which manufactures and markets multiple lines of medical carts, accessories and storage cabinets for use in medical facilities.

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