As first reported in a Breaking News Alert on Tuesday, Top 40 supplier firm Barton Nelson (asi/38670) has closed. Counselor has confirmed that the company recently laid off 60 employees in its Kansas City office and about 300 in its facility in Mexico. Contacted by Counselor, Bart Nelson, CEO of the company, and Vickie Woodruff, owner/vice president and a member of the Nelson family, declined to discuss the situation publicly as of today.
While nobody at Barton Nelson is currently answering calls, the company’s outgoing voice message on its main phone line right now says: “After 53 years, BNI is being forced to close its doors by our lenders. We will not be accepting new orders and are unable to ship current orders. We are extremely sorry our lenders put us in this position. On behalf of BNI employees and the Nelson family, we thank you for your friendship and loyalty. Wishing you the very best.”
In early 2011, Advantage Capital Partners, an equity company with offices across the country, had provided $5.7 million in financing to Barton Nelson. At the time, the company said the capital would be used to fund its operations and growth initiatives.
"We were struggling to maintain the business when we partnered with Advantage Capital," Bart Nelson said at the time in an Advantage Capital newsletter. "Their willingness and ability to provide funding when conventional lenders had turned us away means that we can continue to serve our customers, meet our financial objectives, grow our business and provide stable jobs during a challenging time for the industry."
Barton Nelson was founded by B.J. Nelson as an ad agency in 1961. The company purchased BEBCO in 1975 and entered the ad specialty market as a result. By 1980, it had phased out its ad agency business to focus solely on being a promotional products supplier, and since 1985, it has been listed by Counselor as one of the largest suppliers in the market.
Barton Nelson was ranked 35th in Counselor’s Top 40 last year, after reporting 2012 North American promotional product sales of $39 million.