Join Date: Jul 2010
Well -- It's All Over
I spent most of yesterday at the HI-LO Factory Auction. I had a chance to talk to Jim Snyder (owner), Tom Stacey (Service/Parts Manager), as well as a number of local HI-LO owners, and some others. It was a bit surreal, seeing the building and property get sold, as well as all the contents, tools, the HI-LO Semi, and a few trailers.
The property consisted of 14 acres, and two large buildings -- one fairly new, and the other was considerably older -- I think it was a chicken farm to start with. The property sold for $304k. There were a lot of people looking to buy machines, wire spools, electric hand tools, etc. I was suprised that there really was not much in the way of parts -- I didn't see any huge quantities of anything other than maybe 20 'complete' hydraulic pumps, some doors, and some black/grey tanks.
I spent a good bit of time talking to Tom Stacey, who I have known for a number of years. I felt bad for him, because like MANY OTHERS working at HI-LO, they worked there all their life. Tom put in 34 years, and is not yet old enough to retire, but too old to find a decent job. He's collecting unemployment for now. It must have been a great place to work for people to stay so long.
I heard from another person very close to the operation that yes, it was partly the recession, but also a management problem - which was news to me. Apparently Jim Snyder hired his son-in-laws to run the operation over the past 12-15 years, and there were issues over having the experience and knowledge to run a manufacturing operation successfully. So many small businesses run into trouble trying to run their operation with family in key positions that they may not be capable of handling.
After talking to Jim Snyder briefly and watching him a bit yesterday, I got the sense that he just wanted it to be over -- to end. He is in his 70's, and it appeared he had had enough. When I shared with him the details of this site and the other site on YAHOO -- how much everyone was saddened and torn-up by the closing, but now even more committed to banding-together to help each other, I was a bit suprised by his lack of interest. I also watched him greet old employees with not much interest going their way either -- some with over 30 years at HI-LO. He didn't seem to be distraught in any way -- he just didn't seem to to be interested. Its too bad to see a great company with a great following end that way.
Jim Snyder is the brother of the fellow that started HI-LO (I don't recall his first name). Jim assumed responsibility when he passed away quite some time ago. Jim owns 50% of HI-LO, and there was another person that owns the other 50%. I don't know his name, but he lives fairly close to Bellville, and was there yesterday also.
I inquired about anything potentially happening in the future for HI-LO, and no-one knew of anything.
There were about 8-12 1810H's and 1811H's for sale. They were selling for $9,500 and $10,000 respectively. Great price, but as-is. I don't believe they all sold. If anyone is interested, I'd try the email address. Apparently there were some 2310's/2311's, but they were not on site. I'm not sure why they were not there.
For me it was a rather sad day, because like many of you, I love my HI-LO, and yesterday was the end of a good long run. It is my opinion that it didn't have to end, but was allowed to end.