To Shamrock Proppants
Mid America Brick and Structural Clay Products (MAB) in Mexico has been purchased for $5.2 million by Shamrock Proppants, a Kirkwood-based manufacturer. Shamrock intends to develop cargo ceramic proppants at the site, to be used in oil and gas drilling — which is very robust now, according to the R.L. Hulett Company, the brokerage firm handling the MAB sale.
Jason Rauschelbach, director of the St. Louis-based R.L. Hulett, said Thursday that at this time, it is unknown if Shamrock intends to manufacture brick, but he noted that Shamrock officials had stated at the auction that they have "high expectations for their project," and Shamrock's CEO Frank O'Brien, stated in June that once the construction industry rebounds, he may resume brick production.
O'Brien said the official closing date could be anytime between now and Aug. 14.
"At this point, the market still hasn't come back for brick and the price is pretty low. So, we will likely mothball or shut down the existing plant until the price of brick comes back up. It's a good plant, the market just isn't there yet," O'Brien said. He said the plant needs some engineering and design work that cannot start until after the closing. "Shamrock still needs to do fundraising to acquire the rest of the funds to put up the plant. Though there is a lot of existing equipment in the building, other equipment is needed. We don't plan to have many people at the site, except for the folks capable of doing maintenance," he said.
Any persons interested in interviewing for production positions are welcome to speak with Shamrock officials after the closing date. O'Brien said production will begin after the facility has been revamped.
The MAB purchase helps the City of Mexico as well; now that they have someone to take possession of the plant and to be responsible for supplying the securities to the bond holders, said Russell Runge, assistant city manager/economic development director.
"Our interest in this bankruptcy was twofold; to see that the City was protected in regards to the payment of the Neighborhood Improvement District Bonds and that the facility was being operated and provided employment opportunities for our citizens," Runge said. "We are hopeful that both goals will be met, because the new owner has agreed to accept responsibility for the bond payments and stated that he plans to be a good corporate citizen. We are saddened by the loss of Mid America Brick, but hopeful the new owner, Shamrock Assets, will be successful."
Mid-America Brick filed bankruptcy in February, listing $16 million in debt. MAB representatives said at the time that the facility, which employed 48, would remain operational during the bankruptcy reorganization. The company ceased brick production in June and Shamrock made a bid just under $2 million as part of a stalking horse agreement — which sets the minimum price for higher offers.
The MAB auction was held July 16 at the Eagleton Federal Courthouse in St. Louis, and attracted bidding from Shamrock and three other industries — CoorsTek,