Elk Grove Village, Ill. — Debt-laden Argus Camera will be on the auction block tomorrow, July 11, with Chicago-based Hartford Computer Group as the only confirmed bidder to date at $2.7 million.
Argus enjoyed sales of $28 million in 2002 but labored under a reported $4.2 million in secured debt to Bank One and the loan company Sequel, in addition to $5 million in unsecured debt.
“We had trouble with Bank One, they were being very inflexible,” said Argus president, William Pearson, who also signaled that slow payment from OfficeMax was a contributing factor. Argus filed a lawsuit against the office superstore in June, in the hopes of securing $2 million in damages.
According to Pearson, if Hartford wins the bid it will retain Argus as an independent division, and the 67-year old Argus brand and current product line will remain in place, said Pearson, who said he would stay on as president of the newly created division.
A representative from Hartford was unavailable for comment, but the company describes itself on its corporate Web site as “a technology service company, IT liquidator, and a multi-dimensional IT equipment provider.”
“This sale will help us to further capitalize our growth,” Pearson said. “The business has doubled every and we are in need of working capital to improve inventory and go after more retailers.”
Under the 11-year reign of Pearson, Argus transitioned from a 35mm film camera based business to marketing lower-end digital imaging products, such as key-chain USB cameras and value-priced megapixel models.