Monday, February 6, 2012

The discreet charms of the bourgeoisie investments

Last Friday (Feb. 3, 20120 the Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ontario was closed. A day earlier the Veyance Technologies plant in Owen Sound, Ontario was closed. These two closures threw hundreds of workers out of work and left two communities to deal with the fallout.

These two closings, separated by about 225 km., had at least one thing in common: John S. Hamilton. Hamilton is the present CEO and president of Veyance Technologies and from 2003 to 2010 he was CEO and president of Electro-Motive Diesel.

I found this interesting and decided to learn a little more about Mr. Hamilton.

I learned that this gentleman is also, or I should say was also, the CEO of the Tokheim Corporation. He took over the helm of Tokheim in 2001, and by November 2002 the company had filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Hamilton said at the time: "We are working through the bankruptcy process with our various constituencies to complete this sales process as quickly as possible. Our goal is to smoothly transition our businesses into the hands of new owners."

In 1898 John Tokheim, an Iowa hardware store owner, invented a pump to dispense kerosene and gasoline. It was such a fine pump that the business was purchased in 1918 and moved to Ford Wayne, Ind. from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Today, Tokheim still brags it's a world leader in fuel dispensing technology. It also brags it's French.

The French didn't get all the Tokheim operation. Back in 1986 Tokheim acquired the business they operated as Gasboy International, Inc. until March, 2003, at which time they sold their prize to the Danaher Corporation.

And how has that sale worked out? Well, on a bulletin board I read:
"Gasboy was a great company that myself and 249 other people use to work for until Danaher acquired us and shipped part of our plant to North Carolina to consolidate us with Gilbarco and of course they sent the rest of it to Mexico.

"Thank you Danaher."
There's a sad network of closures associated with the closure of the London EMD plant. And, contrary to what some like to argue, business closures of this nature do not always result in gains for the shareholders of the companies involved. But, in all the wheeling and dealing, there are most certainly winners and losers. The winners may not be long time owners, but johnny-come-lately private equity investors, and the losers are all too often the long time workers, and in some cases long term shareholders.

For a little more info, let me hand you off to a linked Economist article.

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