Wheeler’s owners emerge with three units

COUNTDOWN This map shows the 19 locations in three states that formed Wheeler’s Building Materials before it declared Chapter 11 in February 2008. The reformed company, led by brothers Mark and Jim Manis, will operate out of three locations: Rome, Cartersville and Jasper, Ga.

A 23-unit lumberyard chain founded in 1949 took less than two months to dismantle in a northern Georgia bankruptcy court, where Wheeler’s Building Materials was pared down into a three-unit pro dealer on April 2. Second generation owners Mark and Jim Manis, who resigned from the company after filing Chapter 11 on Feb. 11, formed an entity called Home Team Builder Services and successfully bid $3 million for the company’s remaining inventory, vehicles, office equipment and other intangible assets. Excluded from the deal were receivables and real property.

The sale is free of any debts, liens or other encumbrances, according to court records. The Manis brothers retained the right to the Wheeler’s name. The court case, which involves 20 different trade names but was consolidated under Manis Lumber, will continue to wind down under the weight of more than $10 million in unsecured claims.

Wheeler’s has been operating out of a handful of locations over the past few weeks, and plans call for three Georgia locations going forward: Rome, Cartersville and Jasper. Wheeler’s will be closing its Austell location, which is a leased facility.

Although Wheeler’s has shrunk its head count considerably since the downturn, the new purchase agreement states that Wheeler’s anticipates keeping some of its current employees, but they will be terminated first and then rehired. All previous agreements regarding salary, incentives, benefits and retirement plans are voided.

Manis declined to comment on his plans for the company, which he took through a rapid expansion during the Atlanta building boom. Wheeler’s was still in growth mode in June 2007, when Manis told Home Channel News that he planned to open a 165,000-square-foot millwork facility in Gwinnett, Ga., later in the month. The company had just added a second location in Charlotte, N.C.

The Charlotte property, along with sites in Cumming, Ga., and Chelsea, Ala., were sold to help raise cash for Home Team’s $3 million bid, Manis told the Rome News-Tribune. The Chelsea facility, a distribution center near Birmingham, was purchased by Builders FirstSource, the newspaper reported.

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