Trying to stay afloat

Published 2:29 pm Friday, August 28, 2009

By Staff
The news that Fountain Powerboat Industries Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week should not come as a surprise.
The company’s declining financial condition during the past 18 months, exacerbated by the recession, placed it in a position to seek protection from its creditors as it reorganizes. As far as Beaufort County is concerned, it’s better that Fountain file for bankruptcy protection and to reorganize so it can continue to operate than to close its doors and let its creditors sell its assets.
For 30 years, Fountain has been a big part of Beaufort County’s manufacturing community. But when a company produces luxury items instead of necessities and a recession like this one comes along, something’s got to give. People need food, medicine and roofs over their heads more than they need speedboats. The reality of that caught up with Fountain.
Reggie Fountain Jr., founder and chief executive officer of the company, said he failed to put aside money for a rainy day. Well, it’s raining, and he’s out in the downpour without an umbrella, for now. Fountain is talking with several potential investors, investors who may provide the money to keep the company operating as it reorganizes.
It’s a safe bet that Fountain will not be a major stockholder in the company that bears his name after the company is reorganized. Fountain is seeking a buyer for the company. Fountain said he wants the company to survive and continue to provide jobs for Beaufort County residents and others in years to come.
Whether, after all the changes that are in offing come about, the company retains the Fountain name or gets a new one, it is important the company stays on the banks of the Pamlico River and keeps producing world-class boats in Beaufort County.
Beaufort County needs Fountain to remain afloat. Scuttling the company would be bad news for a county suffering enough from a lousy economy.