Norwalk Furniture sued by creditor

NORWALK As Norwalk Furniture employees await news of the company's future, a pair of Ohio busi
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010



As Norwalk Furniture employees await news of the company’s future, a pair of Ohio businesses await payment for past services.

Lilli Lief, partner with Crickett Karson, a public relations firm in Beachwood, would not disclose how much the furniture company owes Lief & Karson Communications for its public relations services from February to June.

She did, however, hint at it being a large bill.

The firm started providing media relations assistance to Norwalk Furniture back in 2000. Lief characterizes her firm’s relationship with their former client as a positive and long-standing one.

But she’s grown restless as time wears on and no payment arrangements have been made.

“We hope that we will be compensated for the work that we’ve done, and hope they will get their company back in a positive position,” Lief said.

Lief said her firm has not discussed their business issues with company representatives in a month. She said it is not her firm’s intention to take the matter up with the courts, and hopes it won’t come to that.

But another company that worked for Norwalk Furniture is not so patient.

Flourish, a Cleveland ad and marketing agency, is suing the furniture company for default.

In a civil lawsuit filed last week, Flourish claims their former client owes them $146,198 for work done from February to the middle of July.

“We were doing work for Norwalk and this is their account balance,” said Flourish’s attorney, R. Michael O’Neal.

The ad agency helped the company in a marketing campaign, which included making videos, taking photos, performing television production work and creating signs, mailings, sales presentations, banners and logos.

The last time Norwalk Furniture met its obligation of payment was on Feb. 1, according to an account statement entered as evidence at the Huron County Common Pleas Court.

The explanation provided to Flourish for nonpayment was the troubled waters Norwalk Furniture entered last month.

“It’s my understanding from the discussions my clients had with them is that they are not paying their creditors until such time as they know what’s going to happen with their company — if the buyout will happen, I guess. They certainly stopped paying us,” O’Neal said.

Production at Norwalk Furniture’s various plants stopped July 21 when its bank, Comerica, seized the company’s assets after it could not pay back its $11 million debt.

Company representatives and officials from two private equity groups remain in negotiations over the sale of the company.

The status of those talks was not available Thursday.

Joe Mosbrook, Norwalk Furniture spokesman, did not return calls for comment.

Jim Gerken, chairman of the company, also did not return requests for comment.