Rucker Enters American IronHorse Bankruptcy Fray

The American IronHorse bankruptcy saga continues with company founder and ousted CEO Bill Rucker emerging as a possible contender for buying the foundering manufacturer.

Rucker's attorney Mark Petrocchi filed paperwork Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court's Northern Texas division listing Rucker as a "potentially interested party" in the auction for American IronHorse. Bids for the bankrupt company are due May 5, when the highest and best initial bid will be selected.

Rucker's is the first recognizable name in the contest to acquire the company he cofounded in 1995 with Tim Edmondson. A trio of investors seeking back debt forced American IronHorse to file for protection under Chapter 11 March 25.

Since then a series of bankruptcy court filings have help flesh out the financial turmoil that led what was likely the number two custom motorcycle OEM into insolvency. Paperwork filed in March showed the company saw its sales to dealers slide from $96 million in 2005 to $53 million in 2006 and then to $25 million in 2007.

Efforts to prop up sales by introducing lower-priced models didn't take, and late last year American IronHorse stopped production of its lineup due to what the company called a "continuing erosion of market conditions."

It's also been revealed that the company owes about $22 million to Textron Financial, a primary noteholder of the company that has also arranged post-bankruptcy financing for AIH under what is called a "debtor-in-possession loan." Under this deal Textron will supply a fresh infusion of cash to help with IronHorse's continuing business operations.

With the bankruptcy filing now official, American IronHorse has released a list of its 20 largest unsecured creditors. These are in addition to the three investors who forced the bankruptcy and the creditors that subsequently signed on to the case.

The amount sought by the 20 listed totals $2.6 million, including the following motorcycle industry-related companies:
  • Daytec frames, Hesperia, Calif., $367,975.89
  • R.C. Components, Bowling Green, Ky., $311,020.85
  • Gladwin Paint Co., San Antonio, Texas, $150,665.91
  • PIAA Corporation, Portland, Ore., $112,656.94
  • IronHorse of Texas, Fort Worth, Texas, $82,586.17
  • S&S Cycle, Viola, Wis., $62,757.28
The list also includes BrandEra Ltd., a Texas-based marketing, PR and advertising firm founded in part by American IronHorse's former VP of marketing, Beth Owens, and Lakeshore Harley-Davidson, a dealership in Libertyville, Ill.