ONEIDA — Four brothers whose parents formerly worked for Oneida Ltd. are buying the historic limestone-and-brick building that had been longtime headquarters for the tableware company which now is part of another firm.
The brothers are purchasing the 163 Kenwood Ave. site “as an investment” to be converted for use as office space, light industrial uses, and some residential apartments, said Kipp Hicks, one of the brothers, on Thursday. He is executive director of the Madison County Industrial Development Agency.
But “most importantly we want to make sure that the spirit of the Oneida Community stays intact,” Hicks said, referring to the former religious and social society to which Oneida Ltd. traced its 19th century roots. The brothers “have applied to get the property listed on the National Register of Historic Places, much like the designation that the Oneida Community Mansion House has,” he added in reference to a separately owned site that is almost directly across the street.
The former Oneida Ltd. headquarters, which Hicks said was built in 1926, comprises about 98,000 square feet on four stories. It was put up for sale about two years ago after the Oneida company was acquired in November 2011 by Monomoy Capital Partners, a New York City private equity firm that later folded Oneida’s business into an Ohio-based company called EveryWare Global, Inc. A handful of Oneida company jobs still in the headquarters building are soon to be eliminated, which will complete a full phaseout of Oneida Ltd.’s local presence that numbered over 2,000 employees in the late 1990s.
Hicks said he could not discuss the purchase price for the building, adding that the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the month. Its asking price at one time was $2.8 million, and later was $2.1 million, according to real estate company documents online.
Hicks’ three brothers who also are involved in the purchase include Todd, a teacher at Seneca Street Elementary School in Oneida; Scott, who lives in Albany; and Rick, who lives in Louisiana. Their father, William Hicks, retired from Oneida Ltd. and was senior vice president/general manager of special sales. Their mother, Sandy Hicks, worked in the factory store that now is closed.
When asked about the pending sale of the Kenwood Avenue building, EveryWare spokesperson Erica Bartsch said the company had no comment.
Hicks said he and his brothers “are actively seeking future tenants for office space, light industrial and higher-end residential apartments” in the building.
Oneida Ltd., founded as a company in 1880, operated multiple sites in the Sherrill and Oneida areas including a massive flatware factory in Sherrill before difficult economic conditions triggered a series of layoffs that began in 1999. As the cutbacks continued, the flatware factory closed in 2005 and the company underwent a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filing in 2006 from which it announced its emergence later that year. When Monomoy purchased the company in 2011 from a group of hedge funds and banks, the Oneida headquarters had about 150 employees, and the numbers had dwindled to about 65 by the start of this year.
EveryWare Global, a marketer of tabletop and food preparation products, also has experienced recent financial difficulties. The company in May said it was temporarily closing two tableware factories in Ohio and Pennsylvania in order to save money, according to online news reports including Columbus Business First; it had fallen into default under a term loan agreement, the report said.