IN THE BLACK: Now comes the task of liquidating assets.
By S.J. KOMARNITSKY
Published: March 6th, 2008 03:20 AM
Last Modified: March 6th, 2008 01:33 AM
WASILLA -- Despite more than $1 million in losses in its final year in operation, the Matanuska Maid dairy ended its 71-year run in the black, with a bit of help from the state, according to state officials.
A Feb. 26 report by company accountant Donna Edwards showed the state-owned creamery had $206,000 in the bank and another $190,000 still owed it.
Outstanding bills are expected to total less than $80,000, said Joe Austerman, a state employee and the acting manager for Mat Maid.
Those totals could leave Mat Maid in the black. However, the figures include a $600,000 boost the company got from a state grant last year, Austerman said.
This will likely be one of the last accountings for Mat Maid, which started in the 1930s as a farmers' cooperative and was taken over by the state in the mid-1980s after the private operator went bankrupt. Although it profited for several years, its directors shut it down in December because of mounting losses.
This week, officials took another step toward dismantling the company, filing an official notice with the state to dissolve the Creamery Corp., which oversaw the Mat Maid operation. The notice of intent to dissolve was filed Monday with the state Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.
Dissolving the business and closing out its books could take four to six months, said Dick LeFebvre, a deputy commissioner with the state Department of Natural Resources. By filing notice, the directors can no longer take on new business and instead can only concentrate on "winding down," he said.
Winding down includes liquidating what remains of company assets, notably its equipment and properties. State Division of Agriculture officials are taking proposals from auctioneers to sell equipment at the company's Anchorage and Palmer plants. The Creamery Board could give the go ahead for an auction when it meets Friday.
That would leave only the Mat Maid properties to dispose of: A 1.42-acre lot in Midtown Anchorage, site of the main processing plant, and a 3-acre lot in Palmer, site of a factory where the company made water bottles and milk jugs.
An attempt to sell both for a minimum bid of $3.35 million in December failed to attract any bidders. Since then, at least two parties have expressed interest in the Palmer property, including the city of Palmer and an Anchorage trucking company.
Raintree Properties in December offered $710,000 for the Palmer property and promised to put in an additional $1 million in improvements. Company co-owner Ed Darby said he and partner Arnie Swanson considered starting their own water bottling operation at the facility.
However, he said Wednesday the company wants to buy the building and the equipment. If the state sells the equipment, the company would no longer be interested, he said.
Yet to be decided is what to do with a raft of Matanuska Maid memorabilia, including historic photos, old sales campaign signs and even a wooden butter churn.
None of that will be sold, said Tina Otto, an assistant attorney general working on Mat Maid.
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