Future of local company to be determined by bankruptcy court

Harper Brush, who has been in business in Fairfield since 1900, could close its doors for good this week.

The fate of a 112-year-old Fairfield company will be in the hands of bankruptcy court this week.

Harper Brush is Fairfield's oldest business, and manufactures industrial cleaning tools and household products. Last fall, the company decided to close their North Carolina plant, and with a $300,000 financial assistance grant worked to consolidate and restructure the company. However, with continued financial problems, Harper filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy last month.

Tuesday morning, State Representative Curt Hanson, Fairfield mayor Ed Malloy and Lori Schaefer-Weaton and Tracy Vance from the Fairfield Economic Development Association met to discuss the company's current situation and to look to the future. As an established small business supplying American manufacturing jobs, the company is important to Fairfield and to Iowa.

"First of all, these are American manufacturing jobs, this is a high-quality product and always has been an iconic product within the brush industry," said Mayor Malloy. "It's very important to the city of Fairfield to preserve these jobs, it's important to the state of Iowa and frankly, to the country, as a statement to say that we will fight to continue to support American manufacturing jobs."

On Thursday and Friday, bankruptcy court will weigh Harper Brush's assets and liabilities, and make a decision that will either close the company's doors for good, or allow them to continue operations until they find a buyer to sell the company to.

"We believe that there are rulings going to be made later this week that if unfavorable, we could lose this company forever, if favorable, they have a shot to continue operating within our city, within the state of Iowa," Malloy said. "They also represent not only 70 jobs here in Fairfield, but hundreds of companies locally and throughout Iowa, vendors and services who are connected to this company, so these jobs are critically important and we want to show our support today."

Vance said Harper Brush is already looking for potential buyers for the sale. Hopefully, the sale can be made within the industry, and the jobs can be retained in Fairfield. If operation is not able to continue, liquidation firms will likely step in and shut down the business.