A bankruptcy judge gave some good news to a Beaufort County boat company today.
The judge made his final decision on Fountain Powerboats in a case that has gone on for months.
Reggie Fountain tells WITN the judge affirmed Fountain's plan to reorganize and brought the company out of bankruptcy. Liberty Investments is now a partner in the company, but Fountain will remain as president and CEO.
Fountain said in 2006, the company had 400 or so employees, back when sales were $80 million. That number dropped to about 20 in late 2009 as the company struggled in the harsh economy. Fountain says because Liberty financed the company during the bankruptcy case, there are now 120 people back at work at Fountain. He says he hopes to bring more back.
Fountain said while the company is on firm financial footing, the economy is still tough. He'll know more about what the future holds after this month's Miami boat show, which he says is the biggest boat show in the world and often provides 20 to 25% of the company's sales.
Today's ruling "will keep us going for another 30 years," Fountain said. "God willing of course."
Liberty is now the majority owner of Fountain Powerboats, which has now transitioned from a public to private company.
Bill Gates, who represents Liberty, will be chairman.
Fountain tells WITN Liberty has bought the company's note from Oxford Investments, another company that was working to acquire Fountain and purchased the note from Regions Bank.
Fountain says he expects management to remain the same. He doesn't believe Liberty will allow him to spend quite as much on racing. He says the company previously spent up to $3 million a year on racing.
Fountain said the company has a solid product line with new products, and he feels positive about its future.
A bankruptcy judge has ruled in favor of Fountain Powerboats, and will allow the Beaufort County boat maker to reorganize.
After a day long hearing in Wilson, the judge will allow Reggie Fountain to remain as president and CEO of the company and permit it to reorganize with Liberty Associates.
On Monday, Oxford Investments purchased a $19 million Regions Bank note at auction for $6.75 million. The judge says Fountain must now make monthly payments of $29,375 to Oxford to pay off that note.
Stay with WITN News and witn.com for more on this developing story.