Is Armstrong Flooring going out of business in 2023?

There was a lot of controversy within the flooring sector. It’s due to the bankruptcy of Armstrong Flooring and AHF Products’ purchase of part of Armstrong’s assets. Armstrong Flooring Inc. stopped business on July 22, 2022. Also, its assets were purchased by AHF Products. 

This includes the rights to license the Armstrong Flooring brand name. Additionally, AHF has acquired three of Armstrong’s U.S. production plants in Kankakee, IL, Lancaster, PA, and Beech Creek, PA.

AHF Products is the biggest producer of hardwood flooring in North America. Its headquarters are in Mountville, Pennsylvania. It has seen tremendous expansion in a variety of other flooring categories. 

This covers commercial flooring items, vinyl planks, and laminate. AHF Products also produce commercial brands. Let us see in brief what happened to Armstrong Flooring in this article.

Quick recap of the company’s history

A Pennsylvania corporation named Armstrong Flooring was established in 2016. Armstrong World Industries separated its flooring division, which had $1.2 billion in annual sales in April 2016. Armstrong Flooring, situated in Lancaster, became the new publicly traded business. 

AFI was its New York Stock Exchange ticker. Seven production facilities are located across three nations. Pennsylvania has two plants: one in Lancaster City and one in Beech Creek Township, Clinton County. 

Besides one facility each in China and Australia, there are plants in Illinois, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

American Industrial Partners purchased Armstrong Flooring’s hardwood floor division. The sale was for $100 million in December 2018. 

Armstrong Flooring said in December 2020 that it would close its flooring production close to Los Angeles. Also, it is said to have laid off 58 workers in the first quarter.

The company moved its corporate offices and technical center from a rented building on Columbia Avenue in Manor Township. They shifted to Greenfield in East Lampeter Township in April 2021. More than 60% less rent was expected to result from that shift.

Armstrong Flooring decided to sell it to California industrial developer Overton Moore Properties in February 2021. The sale happened for around $77 million.

Armstrong Flooring informed investors on May 2, 2022, that it would probably file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On May 8, Armstrong Flooring filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It disclosed a total debt of $317.8 million and a long-term secured debt of $160.5 million.

According to the company’s bankruptcy filing, at least 100 key department employees have left since March 1, 2022. The New York Stock Exchange removed its stock from listing.

On July 10, 2022, Armstrong Flooring stated it had closed a contract of sale for $107 million with AHF Products. The former hardwood division of Armstrong Flooring established its firm in 2018 AHF Products. It is situated in West Hempfield Township.

Before bankruptcy Armstrong Flooring paid executives a $4.8 million bonus

Armstrong Flooring Inc. paid its top executives $4.8 million just before declaring bankruptcy. It was an action that angered lenders.

According to court documents and regulatory filings, the company’s chief executive officer, Michel S. Vermette, and at least four other managers received part of their yearly incentive payouts. This was done early to keep them on the job.

Congress, creditors, and employees have criticized such payments. They allege that businesses violate bonus restrictions that bankruptcy judges may impose. According to a federal report, 42 businesses immediately paid out $165 million before declaring bankruptcy.

Armstrong was looking for a $30 million emergency loan in May 2022. So that it could continue to run as it tried to sell itself while it was in bankruptcy. 

This loan would “restore the cash the company paid out to the executives.” According to Armstrong creditor Pathlight Capital, this was in a court filing, assuming a federal judge approves it. The business chose not to comment.

At a video-court hearing on May 16, 2022, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath was set to rule on Armstrong’s loan request. She has previously criticized such bonuses. Pathlight has opposed the funding, partly due to its executive’s bonuses.

According to court documents submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, Armstrong filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

It happened after trying for months to locate a buyer and work out a deal with lenders. Armstrong claimed to have $517 million in assets but a $317.8 million debt to creditors.

The producer of vinyl sheets, planks, and tiles was the most recent business to apply for court protection from creditors in April 2022.

 It happened to deal with rising costs and sluggish sales affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Armstrong intends to keep looking for a buyer with the help of Houlihan Lokey Capital advisors.

 Armstrong battled with lenders who imposed severe limitations. It eventually hindered its turnaround efforts as it faced rising costs, Vermette claimed in court documents. 

As the epidemic started to spread in 2020, the company had already begun modernizing its operations.

Armstrong World Industries was the parent company of Armstrong Flooring. It emerged from bankruptcy in 2006 with a plan to handle asbestos-related cases approved by the court. 

The chemical can lead to cancer and other deadly lung conditions. In 2016, Armstrong Flooring separated from its parent business and went public.

Armstrong Flooring would sell its assets to Gordon Brothers and AHF

On July 10, 2022, Armstrong Flooring Inc. disclosed that it had agreed to sell its North American assets to AHF Products and Gordon Brothers. 

Gordon Brothers is a global consulting firm with headquarters in Boston. It specializes in asset liquidation.

According to reports, the agreement calls for paying $107 million in cash and taking on some responsibilities. At that time, a Delaware bankruptcy court judge had to approve it. 

The deal would be discussed in a hearing on July 12. Also, Armstrong Flooring stated that it expects to publish the finalized sale agreements for its Australian and Chinese operations after receiving binding offers for each.

The Lancaster, Kankakee, and Beech Creek facilities will still be run by AHF, according to the company. On July 15, 2022, Armstrong will work toward closing down its Jackson and Stillwater offices. 

Following completion, Armstrong Flooring will continue business as usual across North America.

Gordon Brothers complete the acquisition of Armstrong Flooring

Gordon Brothers successfully acquired a significant chunk of Armstrong Flooring Inc.’s assets. As said, it is a global advisory and restructuring firm.

Gordon Brothers acquired the majority of the flooring product manufacturer’s stock. The company teamed up with Vion Investments to buy the receivables. This was to wind down the operations that did not proceed.

The company purchased property owned by Armstrong Flooring in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Gordon Brothers also purchased the machinery and equipment assets for resale through a live auction and several online auctions. 

It includes those in the Stillwater and Jackson, Mississippi, factories.

AHF Products could continue operating three Armstrong Flooring sites in Pennsylvania and one in Illinois. It happened due to the acquisition, saving close to 600 jobs.

The Armstrong brand has a bright future

Armstrong Flooring Inc. was struggling at the time. It had cash flow problems, severe supply chain disruptions, falling stock prices, and rising operational and material expenses. There were rumors of plant closures and layoffs.

In February 2023, the situation changed and appeared to have improved. It was mainly due to forming a new parent company in the form of AHF Products. AHF, the largest volume provider of hardwood flooring in the market, pounced on Armstrong Flooring’s significant assets last summer in a $107 million acquisition. 

Three American manufacturing facilities were featured in this. More significantly, AHF was granted permission to use the more than 100-year-old Armstrong Flooring brand name.

In an odd twist, Armstrong Flooring’s U.S. operations were eventually acquired by a company that had previously been one of its divisions. 

AHF Products is attempting to right the ship and pick up the pieces for the Armstrong Flooring brand.

Brian Carson, president, and CEO of AHF Products, said, “We purchased the Armstrong Flooring business at the end of July 2022. 

In August, we started standing the business up. We immediately got to work improving and shoring up the plants.”

Product lines for Armstrong Flooring that will continue to be owned by AHF include the following:

  • Imperial Texture 1/8″, Raffia Stream, Crown Textures, Stonetex VCT
  • Natural Creations D10 (Biome, Coalesce, Duo, Exchange)
  • Parallel USA LVT
  • Safety Zone Tile
  • Static Dissipative Tile

Product lines for Armstrong Flooring that were eliminated:

  • All Armstrong Flooring commercial sheet lines (e.g., Medintech, Medintone, Medinpure, StoneRun, Timberline, Connection Corlon)
  • Imperial Texture 3/32″ VCT
  • Unleashed and Unbound LVT
  • Bio-Flooring (Migrations and Striations)
  • All residential sheet products except FlexStep Value Plus, Progressions, and Traditions (all other lines, e.g., Stratamax, Duality, and Cushion Step, are dropped),
  • All Armstrong SPC (Essentials, Elements, Empower, Vantage)

Conclusion

Some product lines have survived Armstrong Flooring’s liquidation. But it is essential to realize that the remaining product lines will be subject to AHF’s policies, terms, and prices. With AHF transitioning, this procedure could be frustrating. 

It will take time, and there might be some difficulties because some things have lengthy lead times.

According to Carson, CEO of AHF Products, placing the Armstrong Flooring brand in the best possible position to thrive is everything. “I’ve worked in and around Armstrong for 30 years. 

I’ve never seen so much energy in these factories as I’m seeing today,” he remarked. “We have amazing talent spread across the whole company. I believe that Armstrong Flooring’s best days are still to come.”

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