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Fletcher-Terry Bankruptcy

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Paul Cascio, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Not sure if this has been posted before, but about a month ago, Fletcher-Terry filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. This is sad news, as FT is one of the mainstay manufacturers in our industry. They're also neighbor of mine, as their headquarters is located about five minutes from my home in Connecticut.

    I remember back in 1987, when I first started framing, I bought an FT2000. When I had a minor problem with it, I called FT for support. The very next day, John Peterson, who at the time was FT's Vice President of Sales, showed up at my house unannounced to help fix the problem. Talk about great customer service!

    This is an extreme example, but FT has always set the standard for quality customer service in our industry.

    Unfortunately, their ability to research and develop products has not been as good. Along with questionable management and marketing practices, a changing landscape in their two biggest industries (framing and hardware), and a challenging economy, tough times have overtaken them.

    Let's hope Fletcher-Terry is able to pull out of this and once again become a pillar in our industry.
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  2. The Toxic Framer

    The Toxic Framer Guest

    I agree with you Paul. Lets hope that the chapter 11 restructuring will be all that they need. I as well have been a huge fan of their equipment for many years. I was hoping to be looking at their CMC in Vegas. I have been CMC so far but it's time to bite the bullet and make the move to one this year.

    Do you know if they are still attending Vegas?
  3. Luddite

    Luddite PFG, Picture Framing God

    GRRROOAAN...NO! Their customer service rocks,and I love what stuff of theirs I happen to own.Built like tanks they are. L.
  4. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    This is quite telling of our industry as a whole. F-T I would guess is the #1 supplier of professional manual mat cutters. Combine that with the fact that almost every shop I have ever been in has a F-T glass cutter in the back.

    Unfortunately I think this will not be the last we hear of major supplier biting it.
  5. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Not so fast...

    Acquisition of the company was negotiated more than a month ago, and debt-restructuring is required in order to complete the transaction.

    Fletcher-Terry remains a major supplier of manual mat cutters, wall cutters, and fitting tools to the framing industry. Their new products are mainly specialty-cutting machines for the visual-communications industries.

    Personally, I love my new FSC wall cutter, which does an excellent job cutting aluminum sheeting, composites, and framing boards up to 1/2" thick (such as Gatorfoam), as well as glass and acrylic.

    Yes, Fletcher-Terry will be at WCAF. They have invited me again, as in the past, to demonstrate underpinners in their booth.

    It looks like business as usual.
  6. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Acquisition by whom?
  7. The Toxic Framer

    The Toxic Framer Guest

    Oh good !! Thanks Jim. I was looking forward to checking out there CMC in Vegas.
  8. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Viscom/FT Filing

    In the interest of preventing misinformation...

    I read the 10/27/09 filing. It's only a chapter 11 (restructuring/write off to resume normal operations), and not a chapter 7 (liquidation to cease operation), so they'll probably be fine.

    Great company with great products. Maybe the problem is that framer's and other industries that they sell too aren't buying, because the market is flooded with used equipment. One thing I can say, is that their stuff LASTS. :)

    Let's hope they're around for another 141 years!

  9. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    TTF, I don't think that F-T does CMCs anymore. They distributed Valiani in the past, but Valiani has their own US offices now.

    The big players in the US are Wizard, Valiani & Gunnar.
  10. The Toxic Framer

    The Toxic Framer Guest

    Oops. Guess I need to get those magazine subscriptions renewed! Been outa the loop that way for a bit. :shrug:
  11. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Good question. Can't say. Watch for a press release soon.
  12. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Likely a Chinese company - ISUN - which as I understand it, has been doing a lot of FT's manufacturing for several years. I haven't been able to confirm this as of yet.
  13. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Paul the first post looked like a "heads up framers" kind of post. This last one looks like gossip and rumor mongering. (That's my job ;) ) But seriously if you want to tout yourself as an educator in our feild I would hope you would learn to hold your tongue when talking about the companies that support the industry. Doom and Gloom on Fletcher, badmouthing Museum Glass yesterday, you hold your own in the LJ Micheal's threads.

    Not saying you shouldn't post, but a little self censoring would be good from a person that is an "expert" here. Support the industry ;)
  14. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    A change / part of the times...

    Jim pretty much summed things up - and indeed Fletcher-Terry equipment is flowing through distribution channels and assistance is still a toll free phone call away.

    Distributors and key educators were made aware of the changes taking place a number of weeks ago in honest and frank communications from Fletcher-Terry.

    We should all know who the new owners are by the WCAF Show if not before. The key thing is that even in these changing times, that a respected name like Fletcher-Terry is carried on.

  15. Pat Kotnour

    Pat Kotnour SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I had the privilege of co-branding with Fletcher Terry for a few years, and during that time they couldn't have been better to work with, or more honest. Whatever is happening internally at the moment is unfortunate, but I'm sure they will come out of it. They still have great products and the industry needs them. The name alone stands for quality and honesty, which is something that will help them to survive.
  16. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Bob, I don't know why so many framers want news to be kept secret. The economy is bad and not talking about it does not make it better. Maybe if someone had discussed the difficulties I would have purchased the odd parts that I have been meaning to purchase for 2 years now. Many framers have odd items that should be taken care of but have just been planning to do it with no real urgency. Silence is as much to blame for the problems as the economy.

    Other threads that have discussed problems with products or the fact that manufacturers have turned their backs on us little guys in favor of chasing the BB's are not the problem. The problem lies with companies that favor our cometition over us. We are the bread and butter of these companies. We pay their bills and the BB's are the big profits. They can live without the BB's but they will die off without us. Many have blamed the media for the poor economy but if the media had been honest in the first place the economy would never had gotten this bad. The media outlets wanted the big profits provided by the real estate and mortgage advertisers. They kept quiet for years before the public knew what was wrong. Had the public known all that was wrong with Sub-Prime mortgages, Option Arm mortgages maybe people would have made better decisions.

    Many businesses that went under would have been better prepared had they only known what was coming. Putting our head in the sand and saying it will never happen to my customers was the demise of many. Many have thought my posts about the economy and housing were "Fear Mongering" but those who made changes have thanked me privately for opening their eyes to situations that the media would not make public in fear of losing advertising dollars. The informed at least had a chance to make decisions. Many changed nothing and were harmed by keeping their heads in the sand.
  17. janetj1968

    janetj1968 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm so sorry to hear it....
  18. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Thanks for the heads-up, Paul.

    It's allowed a good conversation to take
    place, and we'll be interested to see how
    things turn out. Maybe I'll order extra
    Framer's points next time....
  19. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Jeff you missed my point completely.

    Again. I must not be typing clearly. Again :)

    Paul, when he first posted the thread was great. He was informing us of news he had heard that might affect us as a group.
    Then later he was spreading an unfounded rumor
    which caused others here to over react to unfounded info
    despite what others whose opinions are equally respected had said
    Paul is an educator in our profession. He is thought of as a source of knowledge by many here. A source of valid information. He needs to tell us when he hears information that applies to us, but he also needs to not fan the fire of unfounded rumors.

    As an educator he is in a tricky position. He can't jump on the "doom and gloom" bandwagon. You and I can because we are not considered "experts" we're just peon Grumblers. Paul is 1) a sponsor of this forum. 2) the owner operator of a Framing Academy, so many look to him for truthful information (which he does provide) and 3) an astute businessman.

    So in those roles he needs to really be sure of what he says as Grumblers will be listening more earnestly to what he says than if you or I said it.

    I had a discussion like this to one of my town's selectmen. He made a comment about the petition holder at a meeting trying to impose a "nanny state". Now as a selectmen he was the voice of the town. The only rep of the town that many in town would likely talk to. So by saying what he did, and by not being sanctioned by the town, it appeared as if the town had condoned that sentiment.

    Paul is now, by being a sponsor, no longer a peon Grumbler but is an official(ish) voice of the Grumble. So while you and I might trade in rumor spreading Paul really shouldn't. His bringing these stories to our attention is great, but to then spread rumors isn't. I think as a sponsor his role is now trickier even than a Moderator's role.
  20. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Oh and thank you Jeff for not pointing out the glaring hypocrisy on my part surrounding the "self censoring" comment I made ;)
  21. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Bob, you were right to call me out for posting something that was just speculation on my part, and I probably should have labeled it more clearly.

    What I take exception to is your comment about, "supporting the industry," and to a lesser extent, what appeared to be a derogatory use of "expert." Even in my classrom, I take great care in pointing out that there are other views and opinions on just about everything, as well as numerous ways of doing the same thing.

    I certainly do support this industry, especially the part of the industry that I care about most -- the retailers. You chose to to jump on me, rather than the people on this forum who knew, but chose to withhold information that is relevent, especially for anyone about to make a purchasing decision, or who own FT equipment. Framers have a right to know, yet this info was kept hush-hush. Let's see if our trade publicationss even mention it in their next issue, or if after one month its even posted on their websites. The bankruptcy was filed around October 27th.

    Everyone looks out for the manufacturers and suppliers, while almost no one looks out for the retailer. All of us, including me, want The Fletcher-Terry Company to survive. There's nary one of us who doesn't own one of their products. They've produced terrific mat cutters, multi-material cutters and other items for years. I even have friends and neighbors who work for FT. But this news is important and we should all know about it so we can make informed decisions.

    My comment about Mueseum Glass having a low markup, and Tru-Vue's relationship with Michaels is completely true. And so long as these chain stores continue to advertise bogus savings, I will continue to fight against it. And the pricing on chops is illogical.

    I've never been a "doom and gloomer." In fact, I see great opportunity right now for those starting or expanding their business. Rents are low, used equipment is cheap and plentiful, and the businesses that failed have released previously loyal customers to the marketplace.

    Jeff was right in what he said. I don't believe that not talking about something makes it not exist. The people who have a problem facing reality and discussing negative events should go see their doctor and get some Prozac.
  22. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Paul, the use of Expert on my part was in no way intended in a derogatory manner.

    I also think we need to talk about these things, about companies we buy from having troubles, and having successes. but I will repeat youare a person whose opinions are accepted and respected, keep sharing the info as ou do, but just take a double take when you are writing something you believe to be true, but can't verify yet.

    I have a feeling that from Jim and John's wording in their posts that they know who is going to be buying FT. but they are being respectful and not divulging what isn't yet common knowledge.

    So does prozac work ;)
  23. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Let's not be sorry to hear that a company is taking positive action to deal with a changing industry and a distressed economy. Whatever is happening internally at the moment is probably not unfortunate, but very good news.
  24. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I think we're really all on the same page here. We all want F-T to survive and thrive. We all believe that timely information about industry developments is important to each of us in making decisions about our own businesses. And I think we even agree that speculation does not necessarily equate to information.
    Business deals and transactions need to play out in a deliberate fashion with appropriate due dilligence. A circus atmosphere of rumors is detrimental to this process. It sounds to me like things are progressing positively, which in the long run will be good for all of us. The fact that we know about the process is helpful. Now let's let it happen.
    :kaffeetrinker_2: Rick
  25. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

    Well the outsource bit is correct http://www.outsourcing-journal.com/apr2009-manufacturing.html

    Great history to the FT company, however what they can support or offer these days is limited, time ran out for them, you cannot live on a name only, a company needs to innovate.

    Perhaps what is happening to FT should be some sort of wake up call for the framing industry.
  26. janetj1968

    janetj1968 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Now I'm really confused. The article said that they'd been outsourcing since 2004.

    Ah, America. The only thing we make now is money for other countries.

    I'm just surprised. Not saying anything good or bad about it. Just surprised. But I doubt anything we touch is made here anymore.
  27. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I think my kids were made here ;) But now that I think about it I bet the bed linens, the OR equipment and the other stuff used at the hospital weren't :(
  28. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Your obituary is mistaken. The company is alive and well, still designing and marketing the best framing tools you can buy.

    You apparently have not seen F-T's new trimming and cutting machine designs for the Vis-Com industry, several of which provide new cutting options for framers, as well.

    For example, their FSC wall cutter has unique features (such as a laser-sight) and it performs cutting functions that no other machine in the framing industry can handle well, if at all. For example, how would you cut 1/2" Gatorfoam? PVC sheeting? Aluminum composite sheeting? Check it out.

    I'll be working in the Fletcher-Terry booth at WCAF. Stop in and let us show you what's new.
  29. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

    Well, I’m sorry, but if time had not run out why the bankruptcy!!!, sounds to me like time ran out or they died a death, my reference here is to the company not the products a few which are world-class.

    I’m more than up to date with the FT equipment and the spread of the industries they service, their newish cutters are nothing special, similar are available from a number of companies worldwide these day, perhaps it is you who need to broaden your horizons as to what is available on the market place worldwide.

    BTW I have bought new FT equipment this year including some of their cutting equipment, I have every expectation that FT equipment will be around for awhile yet.

    Quote: For example, how would you cut 1/2" Gatorfoam? PVC sheeting? Aluminum composite sheeting? Have you looked at what "some" CMC or plotters cutters can do these days!!! as one way of cutting sheeting for example, there are many other methods available also.
  30. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I for one am not ready to nail this coffin shut yet. FT is a strong force in our small field. Restructuring is a lot different than liquidating.
  31. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Additional information...

    The company that is currently in negotiation with The Fletcher-Terry Co. is a Connecticut based company.

  32. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    If it turns out to be Stanley Tools, well I've visited their HQ up there in Conn. It was nice. :) And I still have an excellent tape measure from there, so at least we could hope they know about measuring and cutting stuff. ;)
  33. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Well one would hope. But have you ever pulled out three or four tape measures and compared the measurements? You may be surprised...
  34. jframe

    jframe <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    Would you please start another thread about these other methods of cutting? Thanks!
  35. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Actually, I have! My favorite ones that I use in the shop vary QUITE a bit from the measurement seen on a 48" metal ruler. My employees and I decided to just go into denial and refuse to think about it. If we have something that needs a really precise measurement, we go with the metal ruler.

    I have no clue why it seems so difficult to make something so simple as a measuring tape that is accurate out to several feet.
  36. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Chapter 11 is not death - that was the point.
  37. MerpsMom

    MerpsMom <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    Don't mean to change the topic of company tools, but what kind of electric staple guns do most of you use for stretching canvases? We have had worse than bad experiences with Stanley.

    Maybe we're not buying the right ones?
  38. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Electric staplers are horrible. That is why most use pneumatic.
  39. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'm not a lawyer or an accountant, but my understanding is that a filing of Chapter 11 facilitates restructuring of debt. I know Chapter 11 filings are quite common during mergers and acquisitions, and that's what's going on here.

    There have always been specialized, automated machines to cut those materials, but few of them have been within the financial reach of picture framers. To my knowledge, none of the top 3 CMCs can cut 1/2" thick material, or aluminum composites. The F-T vis-com machines have attractive price points and serve multiple uses. The FSC, for example, does everything my trusty Model 3000 wall cutter could do, plus much more -- and it fits in the same wall space.
  40. HB

    HB SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Regarding Bob's point, in my opinion, an educator who teaches such a broad course as custom picture framing, ought to teach the full spectrum of popular framing methods & thinking of professionals in the industry, both historically & currently, and should limit his/her personal preferences therein.

    Teaching a class on "Moral Advertising Practice in the Framing Industry" or "Dealing with Customer Complaints" obviously would be an exception, as the student would expect to learn the instructors view on such a narrow subject.

    I do agree that any successful instructor in any industry, also demonstrates outside of the classroom to be a person of integrity, and if he/she chooses to offer comment on an associate, competitor, or their practices, does so very carefully.

    As well, in support of my own professional image, I am careful in discussing my competitors practice.
  41. MerpsMom

    MerpsMom <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    Bummer on the pneumatic, Jeff. We don't have a compressor. We do a rather small portion of business with canvases so I've never gotten into them.

    Never had any issues at all until recently. Maybe it's just a sign of the times and where and how products are being made, but nothing seems to last like it did.

    I just had hoped to get a tip to a certain brand, away from what hasn't been doing well for us. :(
  42. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    MM, try posting as its own topic. I think you might get a lot of response.
  43. MerpsMom

    MerpsMom <span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><

    Will do that, Paul. Thanx! :)

  44. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    If that's accurate, I doubt it would be Stanley. AFAIK, their focus is strictly consumer products, especially with the recent acquisition of Black and Decker. If not iSun, Gerber Scientific would seem more likely.

    Gerber makes vinyl cutters for the sign industry. It wouldn't take much to take that technology and turn it into a computerized mat cutter. The FT product line could give them a foot in the door.

    Now, I've got to get back to checking every tape measure that I own. :)
  45. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It's not death, but it's not good.

    But like Yogi Berra used to say, "it ain't over, until it's over." ;)
  46. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    One thing that we will be seeing is that many of the largest companies have financing coming due. Larger companies used a ton of levereage to finance expansion. Just like housing the plan was to refinance the debt as it came due. I have heard stories of other major manufacturers in this industry in the same position. I think many of them will come as total surprises when it shakes out.

    Many of the regional vendors have already gone through this and are still up and running. The majority are in much better financial and structural positions today as a result.
  47. nave

    nave True Grumbler

    Choice of FT or C&H

    I'll choose FT every day, even with their restructuring. They have always had great C.S. & stand behind our industry. They've made some mistakes but continue to be a good positive force in this industry & make the best picture framing machines. Continue to support this company, as there's no way another outside company would make products specifically for us, the framing community. There's not enough volume or profit, even WHEN things get better.
    Sorry to hear about the Ch.11 & restructuring, but as long as they're around in some form, they're the best we have....
  48. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Agree nave. In fact, their propensity for over-engineering their products has actually contributed to their problems. Can you name anyone who's had to replace their FT3000, or even an FT2100? I don't know of anyone who has. I'm sure there's a few out there, but they're few and far between.

    The FT6100 was a victim of its overengineering - cost too much to manufacture and was very expensive to ship.
  49. nave

    nave True Grumbler

    FT machines

    I generally agree & love engineered machines that last for a lifetime, EXCEPT in the case of their thumbnailer. It's the best made machine with the most options & can do almost anything. Unfortunatley it's not the best machione for simply thumbnailing picture frame moulding for standard 4 sided frames.
    If less framers would buy hobbyist machines & instead spend the $$ once on a FT machine, the company would probably be in better shape now.
    I agree that FT stands behind their machines with support & parts for long past the needed time as a courtesy to all of us, even if it's not profitable. Good for the framer but not as good for their bottom line. They have built up a lot of goodwill in the industry, though.
  50. Blakeman

    Blakeman Grumbler in Training

    Fletcher-Terry have made a rod for their own back

    Just want to bring this thread back to the original subject. Not only are a large number of Fletcher-Terry goods manufactured in China but with a couple of exceptions their latest range consisted of almost identical copies of another brands products. Copying isn't new for Fletcher but they took it to a new level when they became involved with Chinese manufacturing. Jim has talked about the new range of "Vis-Com" cutters without mentioning that they are direct copies of something that already existed, where is the innovation? He has also mentioned how great the products are but conveniently ignored the fact that there are better products on the market for doing the same things.

    This article http://www.usgnn.com/newsFletcher20091203.htm might give you some hint as to their dealings, does FTCO Acquisitions ring any bells? The managing Director Brian M. Johnson also happens to be a director of ISun, smells rotten.

    If there are still any doubts about their thinking or manufacturing then please read this http://www.outsourcing-journal.com/apr2009-manufacturing.html. Fletcher-Terry's business practices are dubious on a good day so I for one will not shed a tear if they never resurface. Their lack of customer service and honesty in recent times has left me wishing I'd never dealt with them.
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