Closed-cell foam rubber and silicone maker RBX Corp. started 2004 as a whole-albeit struggling-company with several rubber businesses but ended the year as a bankruptcy-riddled shell.
The majority of the former RBX operations are operating today, thanks to several rubber companies that believed those units would bolster their bottom lines.
Roanoke, Va.-based RBX's first big move was the February announcement it would close its Bedford, Va.; Tallapoosa, Ga.; and Colt, Ark., factories in April, and exit the custom rubber mixing business.
The company pointed to continued financial losses, spurred by overcapacity in the rubber industry and a weak general economy as major reasons for its decision.
The shutdowns would allow RBX to continue operating profitable units in Buchanan, Va.; Conover, N.C.; and South Holland, Ill., the company said at the time.
But later that month, RBX and its RBX Industries Inc. subsidiary filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The firm also filed for bankruptcy in December 2000 because of negative market conditions and labor woes.
In less than two months, RBX began selling off its plants, businesses and product lines. In March, Rubberite Corp. and Cypress Sponge Rubber Products Inc. purchased RBX's BondTex recycled rubber line.
And in June, technical foam rubber producer Armacell L.L.C. acquired RBX's Colt, Conover and South Holland plants and assets for about $26 million, with the Colt site closing permanently. It was the first indication RBX would be liquidating its assets rather than reorganizing, particularly because it sold two of the plants that were making money.
In July, RBX sold its Hoover-Hanes rubber custom mixing operation, including its Tallapoosa facility, to Robbins L.L.C. and Prevost & Associates L.L.C. for about $1.75 million.
A brief labor dispute at the Bedford site delayed the sale of the company's Rubatex foam rubber business to German rubber maker Sedo Chemicals Neoprene GmbH, but a new five-year deal reached with the United Steelworkers of America union in late July paved the way for the $1.1 million transaction. Sedo unveiled a new company-Rubatex International L.L.C.-and the business reopened its doors Oct. 1.
Finally, Canadian silicone product maker Magnifoam Technology International Inc. purchased RBX's Buchanan-based Groendyk silicone unit in August for just under $4 million.
Following the final sale, RBX had no manufacturing operations and employed only a skeleton crew. The company ended up renting space at the Bedford facility it once owned.