Offer on table for Linden Lumber

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 4, 2007

LINDEN &8212; County Commissioner Freddie Armstead confirmed yesterday an offer has been made by a company to purchase Linden Lumber Company. Armstead would not identify the company and would not confirm if Rossi American Hardwood Company, which is rumored to be the company with interest in Linden Lumber Company, made the offer.

Rossi American Hardwood Company is based in Cromwell, Conn. and according to their Web site has production and export facilities in 10 of the Eastern States. &8220;The company is committed to both domestic and export markets and staffed by highly experienced personnel who are mobile, traveling across the U.S. and world markets, speaking a variety of foreign languages,&8221; according to the Web site.

The family company founded in 1925 by Joe Rossi is still run as a family business by the Chairman and CEO, Ted Rossi, who pioneered exports more than 25 years ago. The company still adheres to the principle outlined by Joe Rossi: &8220;Treat everyone you deal with as though they&8217;re family,&8221; according to the Web site. Ted Rossi leads the company with his brothers, Joe and Peter, and nephew, Scott.

Armstead said he feels positive about the outlook for Linden Lumber Company.

Wachovia Bank took over the operating loan of Linden Lumber Company in September following a foreclosure announcement by Federal Land Bank South.

The county commission unanimously approved a loan of $7 million to Linden Lumber Company in an effort to stave off foreclosure and to save approximately 425 jobs at the site in October.

The loan has not yet been made. The county is still awaiting the audit results.

The commission has the authority to annul the loan agreement if they are not satisfied with the findings of any of the audits or restructuring agreements.

The loan was to be supplied by only after four stipulations were met to the satisfaction of the county:

An audit of Linden Lumber conducted by an independent agency.

County approval of the restructuring of the loan with Wachovia Bank for the operating line.

County approval of restructuring of the loan with Federal Land Bank.

.An independent audit of the assets the county would be taking mortgage on.

Under the agreement, the county will use a bond issue to borrow up to $7 million. They will in turn loan the money to Linden Lumber with an annual interest rate of 5 percent, not to exceed 6.5 percent. The terms of the loan extend for 20 years.

When Linden Lumber leaders approached the county commission about the loan, they first offered to turn the business over to the county and walk away. Hugh Overmyer, chief operating officer, said that their main concern was protecting the 425 jobs.

During a public meeting in September on the loan, employees from Linden Lumber showed up and overflowed a county courtroom to show their support for the loan.

Armstead commended his fellow commissioners for their efforts in the negotiations for Linden Lumber as well as the Overmyers, who own Linden Lumber Company.