Rutherfordton, N.C. – Less than 3 days after it learned that United Cabinet Holdings had announced to staff that it was permanently closing the Touchstone Fine Cabinetry business and factory and thus eliminating over 67 employees, Mark Bellissimo, the CEO of the Rutherfordton-based modular manufacturing plant United States Precision Construction (USPC) and Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, announced to employees on January 12 that his partnership has contracted to purchase the company’s assets with the goal of keeping remaining employees jobs intact. The transaction closed yesterday, Monday, January 29th.
The quick chain of events began when USPC Chief Operating Officer Jason Hunsinger learned of the news from a Touchstone employee. USPC is currently building several hotels for Tryon International Equestrian Center this year, and Hunsinger realized an opportunity. He immediately informed Bellissimo and TIEC Chief Operating Officer Sharon Decker.
With a short timeline to decide, Bellissimo and Decker met a representative of the United Cabinet Holdings, the company that owns Touchstone Fine Cabinetry as well as the company managers. After a series of informational meetings and a factory tour, and conferring with the other Tryon Equestrian Partners, the decision was quickly made to purchase the company.
Bellissimo complimented United Cabinet Holdings Managing Partner Matt Ogden and his organization saying, “They were very good corporate citizens and allowed us to quickly structure a deal to that allowed us to collaboratively preserve the jobs versus just selling off assets.”
“We were very impressed with the management team and the operating staff, so while somewhat risky, it was an easy decision to purchase the business to preserve it and complement our efforts at USPC,” said Decker.
The second key factor for Bellissimo was owning the 220,000 square-foot building that houses the Touchstone Business in order to be able to make critical structural enhancements to improve the efficiency of both businesses. Bellissimo praised building owner Billy McBrayer who did not have intentions of selling, but later agreed to the deal after Bellissimo said his goals were to save the jobs and breathe new life into the company.
“I am very thankful to both Matt and Billy, and give them a lot of credit for ensuring that this opportunity was feasible and had a successful outcome to preserve an important business within the community,” said Bellissimo.
When reflecting on the quick chain of events that led to purchasing a business, Bellissimo said, “It’s not what I thought was going to happen on Tuesday morning when I woke up, but I was inspired by the management team, the product, and the opportunity to both complement the USPC business and preserve the jobs. The staff are proud of their company and with the right tools and investment, this is an opportunity for us to work together and turn it around. The tremendous support this community has given us inspires us to invest more and we will continue to look for opportunities to strengthen our business and the local economy.” said Bellissimo.
Production Manager Chris Britton’s initial concerns were quickly relieved upon meeting Bellissimo.
“My biggest concern when we heard the plant was closing was how the employees on the floor were going to be affected. Obviously, with the prospect of someone buying the business it was hugely important to us that they saw what we did, but when we went and saw Mark’s vision of what’s going on with USPC and the equestrian center, that was the game changer,” said Britton. “When you see someone like Mark who is that excited about what’s going on and they want to make you a part of that vision, that is huge. Then, we realized how big that could be for [Touchstone], for this county and our employees.”
Controller Amy Torvinen is a Rutherford County native who shared Britton’s concerns for the Touchstone Fine Cabinetry employees.
“My main concern was the families that we employ. When we realized there was interest in the company, I really thought we were going to sell our business and walk away and I would go do something else with my life. Then, in 12 hours I was totally sold on the vision and it was exciting and I’m so very thankful for the challenge and looking forward to it.”
Bellissimo announced that he will restore everyone’s health benefits and vacation according to their tenure at the previous company to ensure that their transition is as smooth as possible. There will also not be any disruption or delays in their employment.
Tryon Equestrian Partners Lisa Lourie and Roger Smith, who are both residents of the area, were eager to meet their new company employees.
“I’m proud to live in this community and am constantly impressed by the tremendous talent we have here. This is a great opportunity to give back to the people who continue to support our efforts. I get great joy in being a part of this team,” said Smith.
“I’m looking forward to our partnership helping to make this area a leader in the manufacturing industry once again. Who knew that investing in equestrian sport would lead to this wonderful opportunity to positively impact the community?” said Lourie.
Tryon International Equestrian Center is hosting the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in September 2018 which will attract 500,000 attendees over 13 days from 70 countries and 50 states. USPC is aggressively constructing multiple hotels to accommodate lodging needs for the global event. In addition to servicing Touchstone’s existing customer base, they will now provide cabinets and furniture for USPC, which includes the lodging properties as well as other commercial and residential products that USPC will create in the future.
About Touchstone Fine Cabinetry
Touchstone Fine Cabinetry produces custom kitchen, bath, and general residential and commercial cabinetry and furniture. Nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina, an area world-renowned for the manufacturing of high-end furniture. The company celebrates this heritage by incorporating its authentic craftsmanship into their mission to provide quality custom cabinetry and furniture relevant to the styles and demands of today’s consumers seeking out premium kitchens and baths. As a custom kitchen and bath cabinet builder, their greatest asset is the ability to offer Dealers and Designers viable options and solutions to the challenges and needs they face in designing the perfect kitchens and baths for their clients. From special cabinet sizing and modifications, to one-of-a-kind custom door styles, to color matching and limitless other customizations, Touchstone works with their Dealers to achieve the nuances that make each project successful.
Greensboro, NC – February 8, 2012 – Building Industry Partners, LLC (“BIP”), a Fort Worth, Texas based private equity investment firm focused in the U.S. building products industry, sponsored a newly formed entity, United Cabinet Holdings LLC („United” or the “Company”), in partnership with long-time kitchen & bath cabinet industry veterans Terry Dickey and Michael Arnaud.
Concurrently, United Cabinet Holdings completed its inaugural investment, Touchstone Fine Cabinetry. Touchstone was formed via the recapitalization of Geppetto Kitchens, a Rutherfordton, NC-based manufacturer of semi- and full-custom framed and frameless cabinetry, in partnership with existing Geppetto management and shareholders.
Touchstone will operate out of Geppetto‟s 200k+ square foot, highly integrated manufacturing facility and initially employ 85 people
About Tryon Equestrian Partners.
Mark Bellissimo is the Managing Partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners who own Tryon International Equestrian Center and US Precision Construction, LLC. It includes six families: Mark and Katherine Bellissimo, Roger and Jennifer Smith, Lisa Lourie, Howard and Gwen Dvorkin, Diana and Jennifer Mercer, and Joe and Cindy Mitchell who have invested close to $200 million dollars creating Tryon Resort and the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The Partnership is committed to creating the world’s greatest Equestrian Lifestyle Destination and contribute to improving the quality of life in Western North Carolina.