American LaFrance equipment to be auctioned

The now-defunct American LaFrance traced its roots to a company that began making horse-drawn fire-fighting vehicles in 1832.

Berkeley County plans to sell off equipment it seized at the shuttered American LaFrance plant to recoup about $650,000 it's owed in delinquent tax fees.

The sale is scheduled for June 11 starting at 9 a.m. inside the firetruck manufacturing building at 164 Spring Grove Drive in Moncks Corner, off Cypress Gardens Road.

The equipment will be available for inspection 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 10.

The county has hired Ohio-based Cincinnati Industrial Auctioneers to run the sale.

Dan Davis, Berkeley County supervisor, said he's hopeful the net proceeds will cover the failed company's tax bill, though he noted that the estimated values of the equipment "are varying quite a bit depending on who you talk to."

"We're pretty sure it's going to come close," he said Tuesday.

The auction list shows heavy-duty overhead cranes, a paint booth, lift trucks, pallet racks, air compressors, welding machines and office equipment, among other items.

Any partially completed fire trucks and other inventory aren't included.

Davis said he hasn't heard directly from the company about the auction.

American LaFrance abruptly closed its three plants in South Carolina, Pennsylvania and California earlier this year.

Patriarch Partners, which describes itself as the collateral manager for the investment funds that own the manufacturer, said in January that the fire-enginemaker's "unexpected current financial condition requires the discontinuation of operations" and that the three factories weren't expected to reopen.

Days later, Patriarch filed financing statements with the Berkeley County Register of Deeds claiming all assets of American LaFrance as loan collateral.

A representative for the New York-based investment firm could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The county is seeking to recover fees that American LaFrance had agreed to pay instead of property taxes.

The company was given until Feb. 13 to pay the debt. The county seized the personal property at the Moncks Corner plant after that deadline passed.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572