The U.S. Department of Labor announced a $670,000 National Emergency Grant to provide re-employment services to approximately 145 former workers of FTCA Inc. who were affected by layoffs at the company’s plant in Somerset, Pa. FTCA closed the travel trailer and recreational camper manufacturing facility in January.
“Today’s grant will help these workers update their skills in order to obtain employment in growing local industries,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a press release. “The Labor Department is committed to helping American workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, prepare for the jobs of the future.”
Awarded to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, this grant will be operated by the Southern Alleghenies Workforce Investment Board to provide these dislocated workers, all of whom are certified as eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance, with access to “wrap-around” and supportive services not available through the TAA program.
Of the total award, $334,864 will be released initially. Additional funding up to the amount approved will be made available as the state demonstrates a continued need for assistance.
National Emergency Grants are part of the secretary of labor’s discretionary fund and are awarded based on a state’s ability to meet specific guidelines.
The second of two auctions for the assets of FTCA Inc., former makers of the Coleman brand folding camping trailer, has been scheduled for April 27-28.
Auction times are 7 a.m. on April 27, ending at 10 a.m. on April 28, according to the auctioneer’s website. The auction is taking place at 258 Beacon St., in Somerset, Pa., but reportedly will be limited to online because there is not enough remaining items to warrant the auction on site.
Heritage Global Partners and Machinery Network Auctions are overseeing the auction.
Click here for more information.
An auction preview will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 26.
The first auction occurred April 6-7.
According to the website, the remaining key assets are:
- AXYZ Automation 10030 10′ x 37′ Dual Head CNC Router.
- JBI Double Sided Powder Spray Booth w/ Cartridge Filtration.
- Mezzanine Elevators.
- Gorbel 115′ Craneway.
- Load Lifter 1/4 Ton Jib Crane w/ Coffing Hoist.
- Air O Lift 300# Vacuum Material Lifter w/ Gorbel 1000# x 330′ Bridge.
- Woods Power Grip FL6HVIIACS Vaccum Material Lifter w/ Dayton 1/2 ton Hoist & Gorbel Bridge.
- Rodgers Vertical Panel Saw 12′H Cap., 16″ Blade, 9′ feed table.
- Liebert IT Room Environmental Control and Fire Safety System.
- Delta Miter Saw W/ Cut Table.
- Remaining Inventory.
- Pallet Rack.
- Circular Saws.
- Jig Saws.
- Pallet Jacks.
- Sewing Equipment.
- Office Equipment.
- Wall Furnishings.
Approximately 2,500 pieces of property were sold during the Folding Trailer Company Acquisition’s public auction Wednesday and Thursday at the former Fleetwood production site in Somerset Township in Somerset, Pa., the Daily American reported.
Heritage Global Partners, an auction and asset advisory firm, led the sale of fabrication equipment, machine tools, wire machinery and office equipment during the public auction.
Auctioneer Renee Jones said that more than 450 bidders and 225 online bidders participated in the auction. She said virtually all items for sale were purchased. The plant closed in January. More than 100 jobs were lost.
Editor’s Note: The following story was written by Julian Gothard and first appeared on examiner.com’s website. Some footnotes appear in the text. Explanations for the footnotes appear at the end of the story.
The devastating fallout from Blackstreet Capital Management LLC’s sudden closure of Somerset, Pa.-based FTCA Inc. (Fleetwood Folding Trailers) may not — on the face of it — be as destructive as the fallout from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, but the effects of the closure on FTCA’s 130 workers and 300 plus dealers have proved to be equally toxic.
When Blackstreet Capital Management – a Chevy Chase, Md.-based private equity fund — decided to close the doors on FTCA, formerly Coleman’s popup folding trailer division (1966-1989), they did so not only absent the necessary Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act[i]notification but also with such a singular lack of grace that many of the workers – some of whom had more than three decades of service at the Pennsylvania plant – have been indelibly scarred by the experience. Worse still, many have been burdened with healthcare bills that should by rights have been underwritten by Blackstreet.
Blackstreet’s abrupt closure of FTCA, coupled with the company’s failure to pay their January health insurance premium to Highmark Inc.[ii] – whilst apparently allowing workers to labor under the misconception that medical insurance was still in place – not only left many FTCA workers without medical cover but denied them access to the three months continuing coverage that would have been available to them through Cobra[iii].
In a move that exasperated former FTCA employees, the group insurance premiums that were deducted from employee paychecks during the month of January were subsequently refunded by the now defunct FTCA Inc. “They sent back my insurance premiums…I didn’t want my insurance premiums back…I wanted my insurance,” said Mark[iv]– a former FTCA employee – whose family now faces a $63,000 medical bill, “I dread going to the mailbox every day,” he said. In Mark’s case his spouse was literally being wheeled into the operating room when he received a frantic call from his niece telling him that workers had been locked out of the FTCA plant. “This company gave us no warning at all,” said Mark who clearly remains angry about the treatment meted out to his family by Blackstreet.
In the absence of FTCA’s January premium payment one can’t fault Highmark for denying medical claims filed by former FTCA employees subsequent to Jan. 1 – even those claims that were previously pre-approved. Nonetheless, the end result is that many former FTCA employees have been saddled with medical bills that they simply cannot pay. It’s still unclear whether the non-payment of January’s group health insurance premium – by Blackstreet-FTCA to Highmark – was an act of commission or omission. According to Wayne Ranick, USW Communications director, FTCA’s failure to pay the monthly premium, “could not have been an oversight or an accident. The employers were told when the shutdown was announced that the company [Blackstreet-FTCA] didn’t have money to make the payment even though it was 20 days past when they were supposed to make it.” As a consequence of this – and numerous other – alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) the AFL-CIO-CLC (United Steelworkers) filed an unfair labor practices action (Case number: 06-CA-037227) against Blackstreet Capital Management LLC through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The case – which was filed on Feb. 9 – cites Blackstreet Capital Management and FTCA Inc as follows. “Refusing to engage in effects bargaining, failing to fumish information requested relevant to effects bargaining, making unilateral modifications to its collective bargaining agreement with Charging Party United Steelworkers, and repudiating said collective bargaining agreement.”
Blackstreet’s conduct is viewed by many former FTCA employees and USW officials as being unconscionable in this day and age. Ranick said of Blackstreet “they gut the company, they sell the assets, and they don’t pay any of the bills and obviously they leave the workers in dire straits…they shut the doors and walk away from any responsibility.” That Blackstreet could not apparently bring themselves to inform workers of the upcoming closure reflects poorly on their standard of ethics whilst their failure to pay the group health insurance premium – coupled with their inability to observe the provisions of the WARN act – casts serious doubt on their business judgment. The WARN act is explicit in its requirement “that an employer must give notice if an employment site will be shut down, and the shutdown will result in an employment loss for 50 or more employees during any 30-day period” (U.S. Department of Labor). A review of information held at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry website confirmed that neither Blackstreet nor FTCA filed a WARN notice with the state of Pennsylvania in January 2011.
Whilst some employees from the Somerset Plant have been able to find jobs and others have elected to take training programs, many are still struggling to find a suitable position in a county where unemployment is currently running at 9% (the statewide unemployment average in January was 8.2%). “Unemployment is pretty high in Somerset County…some of the (FTCA) people have found work…some are going on to school to be retrained,” said a spokesperson for Pennsylvania CareerLink. “We’ve been holding workshops. We’ve been trying to help the workers as much as we can, which is what we do for any dislocated worker.”
Blackstreet is not the first company to operate at the fringe of acceptable corporate behavior and nor will it be the last. Indeed, America’s corporate history is replete with businesses that chose to operate absent any kind of moral compass. Whilst it might be unrealistic to expect 21st century companies to build a modern day Utopia for their workers it is certainly not unreasonable to require that they observe all applicable laws and follow broadly accepted ethical principles. This would begin with the simple exercise of good manners and extend to encompass all facets of the corporate social responsibility playbook. There was once a time when the majority of companies trading in the western hemisphere would have provided a clear counterpoint to the unprincipled behavior of a handful of rogue companies, but today – in spite of talk of social responsibility and ethical investing – it’s difficult to find companies that operate under a truly enlightened business model. At the end of the day companies like Blackstreet operate in such a cavalier fashion because society lets them – and that regrettably is the crux of the problem.
Note: At the time of publication Blackstreet had not responded to an e-mail request – sent to their PR company – seeking clarification of the non-payment of the Highmark group medical insurance premium or the failure to file a WARN notice.
Help for FTCA employees: The Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor suggests that former FTCA employees requiring assistance should contact the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s Philadelphia Regional Office at (866) 444-3272. This office will be able to determine what can be done.
[i]The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) was enacted on Aug. 4, 1988, and became effective on Feb. 4, 1989.
[ii]On behalf of the Pittsburgh-based Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund. The Fund provides a wide range of employee benefit plans to more than 40,000 participants and their families.
[iii]The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, 1986.
[iv] Surname withheld to protect confidentiality.
Acknowledgements: Highmark, The United Steel Workers Union (Pittsburgh), USW Local 2632, The National Public Affairs Office, The National Labor Relations Board and PA CareerLink.
The owner of Beckley’s Camping Center in Thurmont, Md., Kelly Shanholtzer, wasted little time this month in acting on the opportunity of a lifetime.
He got a call less than two weeks ago from Alan Reeping of FTCA Inc., asking if he would be interested in buying the finished inventory of the defunct folding tent camper manufacturer based in nearby Somerset, Pa.
The company had halted production Jan. 19 due to “severely adverse market conditions for the company’s products.”
Shanholtzer made the 2 1/2-hour drive to Somerset and looked over the inventory: 76 finished units.
He made an undisclosed offer, closed the deal with owner Blackstreet Capital Management LLC and began removing the units, as well as a large inventory of parts, the next day.
“That’s why it made some sense,” Shanholtzer told RVBUSINESS.com. “We were close, and they wanted everything out in a week.”
Shanholtzer, a Coleman dealer since 1983, wasn’t the first to get a call from FTCA — a large dealer in the West was contacted first, he said, — but the call was well-timed.
Shanholtzer, an RVB Top 50 award recipient, expects a good year in 2011, at least a 10% increase. Indeed, he’s already sold 26 of the recently acquired Coleman units.
He got the year off to a good start: when he opened the doors on Jan. 3 after a holiday shutdown, there was a customer waiting at the front gate ready to make a purchase.
“I expect a good year, I really do. The traffic at the first shows has been unbelievable,” he said.
Today, he was getting ready to move 42 show units to a big show in Timonium, Md., which starts next weekend.
With the large quantity of parts Shanholtzer acquired in the transaction, his dealership will be able to service his own Coleman popup customers as well as remnants of the former Coleman dealer network for years.
For more information contact Beckley’s at (800) 615-6171
Word spread throughout the industry today (Jan. 20) that the manufacturer of the legendary Coleman folding camping trailer — FTCA Inc. — has shut down its plant in Somerset, Pa.
And while company spokesmen were unavailable for comment, it appears that those rumors are true – based on reports from several reliable sources.
”We got an e-mail from our regional sales manager stating that they (company employees) were told yesterday at 3 o’clock that the company was no longer in business,” confirms Andy Heck, president of Alpin Haus, a Coleman dealer in Amsterdam, N.Y., since the 1970s. “We assumed that an announcement would be made to a dealer body as a whole.”
On the other hand, several other Coleman dealers contacted today said they had not been informed of the company’s closure.
Meanwhile, Heck predicts that the Coleman brand, built for a period of years prior to FTCA by Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., will reappear. FTCA was licensing the Coleman brand name from outdoor outfitter The Coleman Company Inc., Wichita, Kan.
”I think someone will take it over,” Heck said. ”It’s too good a brand for someone not to pick it up.”
FTCA was formed in 2008 by Bethesda, Md.-based investment firm Blackstreet Capital Management LLC, which bought the Somerset plant from Fleetwood.
Coleman itself built popups in Somerset from 1967 to 1989 when Fleetwood purchased the company.
Fleetwood built Coleman popups until 2003 when Fleetwood and Coleman parted ways.
FTCA Inc., dba Coleman Folding Trailers, has introduced the Evoultion SV3 on-road version of its Evolution off-road folding camper trailer series. In the process, the Evolution SV3 has become Coleman’s least expensive unit with an inside shower and toilet. The 12-foot Evolution SV3, with a base MSRP of $11,200, is one of four floorplans in the series. ”It’s more of a street version,” said Alan Reeping, vice president of sales for the Somerset, Pa., manufacturer. ”It doesn’t have the beefy suspension and it’s lower to the ground so it’s better with conventional and crossover tow vehicles.”
Over the past few months, employees of Coleman Camping Trailer dealerships from across the country and Canada have been vying to win a Coleman Americana LE Series Sun Valley Camping Trailer as part of a sales incentive program offered by the manufacturer of Coleman Camping Trailers, FTCA Inc.
On Oct. 29 FTCA called on the largest RV dealer in central Pennsylvania, Ansley RV in Duncansville, to select the winner of the Coleman Sun Valley Camping Trailer. Bill Ansley, owner of Ansley RV, randomly selected Shawn Godard of Fairfield, Pa., from nearly 550 entries, according to a news release. Godard, a top salesman employed by Beckley’s Camping Center in Thurmont, Md., sold a 2010 Coleman Evolution E3 camping trailer in September to qualify for the competition.
“I would like to thank everyone who made this opportunity a reality,” said Godard. “I’m so excited.This is a huge honor for me and my family. Coleman Camping Trailers have been a huge part of my sales experience at Beckley’s Camping Center. I’ve camped in them, demonstrated them, shown many families how to use and care for them, now I too, get to own and enjoy one.”
FTCA’s General Manager Allan Reeping, Marketing Manager Sherry Leigh and Regional Sales Manager Lynn Hickey will present the Coleman trailer to Godard at Beckley’s Camping Center on Nov. 10.
FTCA Inc. manufactures Coleman Camping Trailers in Somerset, Pa. For more information about Coleman Camping Trailers or to find a dealer visit www.colemantrailers.com.
Recognized as the No. 1 RV dealer for sales of all RVs in Maryland, Beckley’s Camping Center has been offering Coleman Camping Trailers and serving the RV community for more than 30 years. Beckley’s Camping Center features a 6,000-square-foot showroom at 11109 Angleberger Road, Thurmont, Md. For more information about Beckley’s Camping Center visit www.beckleysrvs.com.
Ansley RV is the largest family-owned and operated RV dealer in central Pennsylvania. Ansley RV has been selling and servicing Coleman Camping Trailers, new motorhomes and towable recreational vehicles for nearly 40 years. Learn more about Ansley RV at www.ansleyrv.com.
Oprah Winfrey will air on Friday (Oct. 29) on her TV show the first of a two-part episode on her RV camping trip to Yosemite National Park.
Part 2 will air on Monday, Nov. 1.
Winfrey visited the park and camped in a Coleman brand folding camping trailer manufactured by FTCA Inc., Somerset, Pa.
Winfrey and Gayle King, Winfrey’s best friend since their early 20s and currently an editor of O, the Oprah Magazine, are shown at left beneath a giant tree located in the park.
Click here to see photos, courtesy of TMZ.com, from a photo shoot at the campground.
Ketelsen Campers of Colorado announced today (Oct. 21) it has become an exclusive dealer of Coleman camping trailers.
“Coleman camping trailers have been around almost as long as we have. They’ve been manufactured in the same Somerset, Pa., location for more than 40 years,” Randy Ketelsen, president of Ketelsen Campers, stated in a news release. “Coleman is the most trusted brand in the industry. No other brand of folding camping trailer compares to the legendary quality and construction of Coleman camping trailers. Over the years we have carried several brands of popup camping trailers and we have concluded that nothing compares to a Coleman. We have thousands of customers and our job is to put them in the best camping trailers available. Our entire team has concluded that if we are to accomplish that objective then we must sell them the industry leader, and that is Coleman.”
“We take extraordinary pride in our innovative design and quality automotive construction,” said Geoffrey Feidelberg, president of FTCA Inc., the manufacturer of Coleman trailers. “With five different series of trailers, each offering varying models, everyone can find a Coleman camping trailer that’s right for them.”
Ketelsen Campers of Colorado is located at 9870 W I-70 Service Road South, Wheat Ridge, Colo. Visit www.WeGoCamping.com to view current inventory and learn more about Ketelsen Campers of Colorado. Visit www.ColemanTrailers.com to learn more about Coleman camping trailers.