OXFORD — Eight months after Keiser Homes shut down without warning, leaving 120 employees without a job, the company remains in bankruptcy court and many, if not all, creditors remain in limbo.

Innovative Building Systems LLC, the parent company of Excel Homes of Maine LLC, filed a voluntary petition for relief in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware under Chapter 7 on May 11, 2016. It came a week after it shuttered its 61,000-square-foot facility on Mechanic Falls Road and began moving half-built modular homes from its warehouse and yard.

According to IBS court filings, Excel Homes of Maine officials believe that after any administrative expenses are paid, no funds will be available for distribution to unsecured creditors.

The company lists its estimated assets at between $1 million and $10 million and its estimated liabilities at between $10 million and $50 million, according to financial documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

According to the company’s Statement of Financial Affairs filed with the bankruptcy court, Excel Homes of Maine lists its gross revenue as $17.17 million from Feb. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2014. By Jan. 1, 2016, the gross revenue decreased to $4.45 million.

Employees at Excel Homes/Keiser Industries insisted the IBS financial problem was not caused by the Oxford plant, even though the Keiser Homes property lost $545,726 in materials and tools during a fire at the plant in 2015. According to court documents, the plant received more than $1.9 million from the insurance carrier to cover lost property, cleanup and business interruption.

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At the time of the shutdown, employees said production at the plant was active and there was a backlog of orders for homes.

Outstanding bills were being paid by Excel Homes of Maine for materials, utilities, haulers and other items through the end of April 2016, according to court documents.

Court documents also show that there were payments or other transfers of property amounting to $1.9 million made within one year of the bankruptcy filing that benefited so-called “insiders.” They included $265,609 to Philip Hickman, president of Excel Homes of Maine, for expense reimbursements.

The company also was facing legal actions by multiple entities before the bankruptcy claim was filed. The cases included one currently in Superior Court of New Haven, Connecticut, by a construction company that claims Keiser was responsible for causing damage to a bridge in Connecticut; a suit filed in Massachusetts for late payment on invoices for services rendered; and a breach of contract filed by a carpentry company, also in Massachusetts.

Some paid

The list of creditors in the Excel Homes of Maine case exceeds 4,500, including hundreds of local businesses and individuals in almost every local town. The list includes the town of Oxford, Oxford Water Department, Double T Fence in Oxford, AAA Fire Extinguisher Co. in Auburn, Atlas Supply Corp. in Lewiston, Aubuchon Paint and Hardware in Norway, and hundreds more.

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Some weathered the storm better than others.

In Farmington, the third phase of a major $1.54 million housing development was about to be built last spring using Keiser modular homes. The news of the closing was a shock to the board of directors of the 82 High St. project, according to Chairwoman Janet Smith.

The 82 High St. project was slated to remove three aging apartment buildings and replace them with three modular buildings, containing four apartments each constructed by Keiser Homes.

The group had received a $500,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank and a $540,000 loan from Franklin Savings Bank earlier last year and had hoped to break ground in the spring and open the new housing in November 2016.

A down payment on the Keiser buildings was made to Cousineau Inc. of Wilton, the local Keiser Home dealer.

With the assistance of Cousineau, the project continued with another home builder and the homes are about ready to open, Smith said.

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“They stuck by us through the project to meet the timeline,” she said last week. “We really didn’t want to keep people in those old buildings for another year.”

The town of Oxford has received some money from Keiser Real Estate, including $368.48 for water from May 26, 2016, to Oct. 27, 2016.

A total of $21,277.46 for real estate taxes from July 1, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2016, was also received. Keiser Real Estate LLC and its taxes are paid up to date, Town Clerk Elizabeth Olsen confirmed. According to municipal tax records, the building is assessed at more than $3 million.

Many others, like Aubuchon Paint and Hardware in Norway, have attorneys  dealing with the proceedings.

Generally speaking, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case does not involve the filing of a plan of repayment as in Chapter 13. Instead, the bankruptcy trustee gathers and sells the debtor’s non-exempt assets and uses the proceeds of such assets to pay creditors in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. A “cure” date is established to “cure the delinquency” and bring all payments current.

In this case, thousands of pages of documents have been filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The case was so extensive that the Excel Homes/Keiser Industry case was consolidated for joint administration under the Innovative Buildings Systems LLC case because of the number of debtors who petitioned to be heard in the same court.

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Eleven cases, including Excel Homes of Maine, were consolidated under the Innovative Building Systems LLC case.

It is unclear how long it will take to resolve the bankruptcy case but Keiser Homes of Maine LLC continues to keep its status as a Maine corporation up to date. It filed an annual report on Nov. 18. It lists a registered agent and Edward K. Keiser as manager.

Kristen Schulze Muszynski, director of communications with the Maine Department of Secretary of State, said the corporate status has nothing to do with the bankruptcy filing. “They are not related.”

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