While a sealed-bid auction for Harden Furniture’s intellectual property has generated no reported results after a bid deadline over three weeks ago, the former CEO of the shuttered company says he may reacquire Harden’s brand-name assets.
Greg Harden, who had been the fifth generation of Hardens to run the 175-year-old McConnellsville company, said Tuesday of the intellectual property’s owner Big Shoulders Capital (BSC), “I am working actively with them and may reacquire the brand assets.”
He referred to the brand name after being asked if he had submitted a bid for the intellectual property, which also includes some other assets. Sealed bids were due by Feb. 1 by email.
Harden also commented “I can’t release any information related to the bidding as BSC has not concluded the process.” He added he did “not know who if any the other bidders were and I am certain BSC will not share that with me as they do not want to give me an incentive to low-ball an offer.”
Beyond the brand name, the intellectual property also includes the company’s telephone number, web site, trademarks, patterns and drawings, customer lists and product-line photos, according to PPL Group of Illinois, an auction and liquidation company that conducted the bidding. BSC, also of Illinois, had acquired certain Harden company assets at an auction in January 2018, while Greg Harden owns the company’s McConnellsville plant complex. The company ceased local operations about five months ago.
Tom Nicholson of The Nicholson Group, Inc., who helped publicize the intellectual property auction, said Tuesday there was no new information to release about it.
Officials at BSC and PPL did not return phone and email messages seeking comment.
Greg Harden said BSC has not sold the intellectual property yet, commenting “I am not aware of the reason why they did not select a final bid but assume they did not receive a compelling offer.”
The situation “does not surprise me as there are very few domestic suppliers left and they would probably see more value in the trade name,” remarked Harden, adding “the only piece” of the intellectual property “with any value is the brand name.”
Furniture designs “are generally not copyrighted as few of them are unique,” observed Harden. Noting that 87 percent of residential furniture is imported, he said “it would make sense that a far Eastern company would step up but Harden would be a poor fit for them as our most prominent brand attribute was ‘Made In America.’”
Separately, Greg Harden said of an agreement for the sale of the Harden company plant complex that “the property is still expected to sell but the closing date keeps being pushed out.” He had said in December that he hoped to complete the transaction by the end of the 2019 first quarter, past a Feb. 1 date he had anticipated.
The matter is frustrating, said Harden, but he added that those types of transactions are “complicated and prone to delay.” He has not identified the pending buyer.
The company at its peak had a workforce of over 500 and a 400,000-square-foot facility, Greg Harden has said. It had about 175 employees as of January 2018.