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Premier pontoons emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Minnesota-based Premier Pontoons — Premier Marine Inc. — has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and plans to continue building pontoons and supplying products to its nationwide dealer network.

The reorganized Premier will remain a Wyoming, Minn.-based company with its current workforce in place.

Premier’s exit from Chapter 11, approved by the court on Tuesday, authorizes a change in ownership to a Minnesota-owned company, Premier Pontoon Holdings LLC.

“The Premier team has worked tirelessly over the nine months to assure we continue to build high-quality pontoon boats as an industry leader,” said new Premier CEO Rick Gallagher in a statement.

“The reorganization has Premier poised to increase production levels across each of our lines,” Gallagher said. “We’ve been working with our vendors to plan for our increased capacity.

             Premier will continue to build pontoon boats in Minnesota

Premier will continue to build pontoon boats in Minnesota

Founders Bob and Betty Menne and Lori Melbostad will continue with the company under the new ownership as Premier starts to build its new story.

The company filed for Chapter 11 protection on June 19 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota, listing estimated liabilities of $10 million to $50 million owed to between 200 and 999 creditors, including more than $6.5 million owed to American Bank of the North.

The need for Chapter 11 protection is attributed in court documents to the costs of a 2011 acquisition that worked out badly.

“The debtor suffered substantial losses in 2014, 2015 and 2016 attributable to the purchase and manufacture of the Palm Beach and Weeres brands in New Ulm, Minn., termination of manufacturing in New Ulm and the transition to manufacturing of the brands at the debtor’s Wyoming [Minn.] facilities,” court documents say.

The Palm Beach and Weeres brands were discontinued at the beginning of this year, the documents say.

The acquisition losses left Premier with “inadequate cash to operate efficiently and profitably, as it had for more than 20 years,” the documents say.

Premier immediately filed a motion asking that it be allowed to continue honoring warranty claims and a motion requesting that it continue compensating employees.

“Premier has always built fantastic boats and set the standard in the industry,” Gallagher said. “Our customers can be confident that will continue. Several innovative projects paused over the past year are resuming. We’re excited to show the marketplace what the Premier team and our dealers will accomplish next.”

Read more about Premier’s emergence from bankruptcy in Thursday’s Trade Only Today.

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