Debt-ridden Fenton Art Glass courts potential buyer
WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – A New York company is working with the owners of Fenton Art Glass on a deal that could restart production.
Gene Bem, chief executive of U.S. Glass, says he hopes to offer Fenton specialty glass to retailers including Macy’s and Neiman Marcus.
Bem says he believes the brand can be refreshed, and he could restart the factory as soon as August. The goal is to be in full production next year.
“We see the Williamstown plant as a special place because you have labor and expertise in the glass making process you don’t find other places,” Bem said.
Family-owned Fenton was built in Williamstown in 1906 and has struggled in recent years with rising costs, slowing sales and growing debt.
Last summer, it laid off most workers and now produces only decorative beads.
President George Fenton tells The Parkersburg News and Sentinel (http://bit.ly/KPyHTk) that no final agreement has been reached yet, but he hopes it works out.
On Thursday, the president of Fenton Gift Shop—a separate business entity—bought all the factory’s molds, tools and other assets at a private auction. Randy Fenton paid $200,000 for the deal, including legal rights to logos, names, colors, styles and glass formulas.
Randy Fenton said he’s negotiating with Bem about becoming a shareholder in U.S. Glass.
“We’re optimistic something really nice can come out of those discussions,” he said.
Fenton Art Glass owes more than $600,000 in back taxes on its 300,000-square-foot factory. George Fenton said that the company must still address its debt.
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