JUNCTION CITY, Ore. (AP) -- It took less than an hour to auction $2.58 million worth of Country Coach motor homes that were the highlight of a marathon liquidation sale.
The high-end RV manufacturer founded 37 years ago in Junction City has gone out of business and its assets are being sold to satisfy creditors under order of a bankruptcy judge.
The crowd was standing room only on Thursday, the first day of a two-day auction. About 1,000 people registered as bidders and 300 more signed up to bid online, said Mark Reynolds of Hilco Industrial of Chicago, which conducted the auction in partnership with Commercial Industrial Auctioneers in Portland.
Country Coach founder Bob Lee and his brother Ron submitted the high bid of $170,000 for the company's intellectual property. Lee said he made the purchase to better serve his customers at the Oregon Motorcoach Center, an RV service facility he owns. The purchase also gives Lee the rights to the Country Coach brand, but he had no comment when asked if he would consider restarting the company at some point.
The company sought to reorganize last winter under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It resumed production with a skeleton crew last April at a rate of one coach per week, but shut down again last fall amid faltering sales. In November, a judge converted the case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and ordered the company's assets liquidated to satisfy creditors, namely Wells Fargo Bank, the main secured creditor. As of October, Country Coach owed the bank $7.5 million.
Thursday's main event was the auction of the 10 finished motor homes. They were sold individually after the individual bids totaled more than an initial $2.55 million bulk bid for all 10.
Everett Henkel of Fort Myers, Fla., bought two finished coaches to sell at his dealership, RV Kountry.
"My heart is breaking for everybody who lost a job here," he said.
As recently as 2006, Country Coach employed nearly 2,000 workers at the Junction City plant.