Spokane Journal of Business

Investors to operate Layrite plant

Group plans to reopen block facility with production possibly starting this week

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A group of 10 investors from Spokane and Seattle has bought the Layrite Products Co. property on Trent Avenue and plans to resume production at the defunct Spokane companys idle block plant, says Chris McDevitt, one of the investors.

The group plans to reopen the plant, which has been closed since last fall, with some production occurring there as soon as this week, and eventually might move the plant so it can develop the 14-acre plant property for other uses, McDevitt says. We think its a viable business, he says of the production plant.

The Layrite assets were sold by a trustee, Blackstone Corp., of Spokane, to satisfy debts that Layrite owed to Tri-West Mortgage, a subsidiary of Sterling Savings Association, of Spokane. A published legal notice said that Layrite owed Tri-West more than $3.5 million. Michael Currin, an attorney and vice president of Blackstone, says that the sale closed late last week.

The group of investors formed two different corporate entities to purchase the Layrite assets, says McDevitt, whos also an accountant in Edmonds, Wash. One of the two entities, Iron Bridge Masonry Products LLC, bought the manufacturing business, and the other, Iron Bridge LLC, bought the Layrite real estate, he says.

He says Tri-West was asking $4 million for everything, and the investor group paid $2.5 million for the real estate. He declines to say how much the group paid for the manufacturing business, and Currin also declined to give details about that transaction.

The production plant, which is expected to employ between 15 and 20 people, will be managed by Kent Hull, McDevitts brother-in-law and another of the investors. Hull formerly owned a company here called Hullpak Manufacturing Inc., which made packaging and materials-handling equipment, but ceased operation in 1994.

Eventually, the investor group might consider moving the Layrite plant to another location and developing the site it sits on for other uses, McDevitt says. He says the group would hire a real estate consultant to determine the highest and best use for the site, which has significant frontage on the Spokane River.

Layrite had operated here for nearly 60 years, producing and selling concrete blocks and other masonry building products. It also sold fireplaces and stoves. Its attorney, David Eash, estimated that the company employed 30 people here before it closed.

The companys financial problems came to light last fall, when Eash confirmed that Layrite planned to sell off its operating assets. The company had suffered from declining sales and growing losses over the past few years as a result of the changing competitive environment and other factors, Eash said.

Late last year, Layrite sold its stove shop to Greg and Donna Fuller, of Spokane, and its retail operation to Silver Lake Masonry Supply, of Coeur dAlene. Those companies will continue to lease office and yard space at the Layrite site.

  • Marlene Mehlhaff

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