Employees Agree To New Contract At Financially Troubled Heintz Corp.

Posted: July 18, 1990

Confronted with the threat of a plant shutdown, Heintz Corp. employees approved a contract agreement yesterday, one week after overwhelmingly voting down another contract, the company said.

Details of the agreement between the company, which manufactures jet-engine parts at its plant in Northeast Philadelphia, and the United Auto Workers Local 834, which represents 420 of the 520 employees, were unavailable.

The workers evidently had little choice but to accept the contract offered by RDK Capital, a limited partnership based in Cleveland that owns three other aerospace companies.

RDK made an offer five weeks ago to purchase Heintz from the bankrupt Grabill Corp., of Chicago, according to Ralph Ketchum, one of RDK's four partners.

Ketchum said yesterday the financial condition of Heintz was "not very good."

Citibank, the New York bank that is one of Grabill's major creditors, insisted that the union accept the new contract as a condition of the sale, said Arnold P. Tonik, Heintz's director of industrial relations.

"The sale is really between RDK and Citibank," said Tonik. He described the labor agreement as "a step toward the sale."

Ketchum said the next move is up to Citibank, which must ultimately approve the sale. Citibank officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.

Efforts to reach UAW local president Frank Maguire were unsuccessful.

Grabill Corp. assumed ownership of the Heintz plant three years ago, when it purchased the aerospace division of the Detroit-based Freuhauf Corp. At the time, Freuhauf was seeking to reduce a huge debt incurred when its management bought a controlling interest in the company to fend off a hostile takeover.

After acquiring Heintz, Grabill's founder and chairman, William Stoecker, ran into serious financial trouble, and the company was forced into bankruptcy. He reportedly is the subject of a federal investigation for his activities at Grabill.

Grabill's problems also represented an embarrassment to the Philadelphia accounting firm of Laventhol & Horwath, which Stoecker had retained. The firm reportedly was obliged to pay nine creditor banks at least $30 million

because of its questionable auditing of Grabill's books.

This is not the first crisis encountered by employees of the Heintz company, founded in 1922 at Front Street and Olney Avenue and acquired in 1957 by Kelsey-Hayes, a Detroit automotive-parts supplier.

In 1983, after it became a Freuhauf subsidiary, Heintz got out of the auto-parts business and switched to the production of jet-engine parts.

The transition, evidently, was not a smooth one. In July 1983, the UAW struck Heintz for six weeks over wages and job-security issues. The company, citing mounting losses, threatened to move to Pennsauken.

The next year, six months of negotiations involving Mayor Goode, the UAW and company officials persuaded Heintz to stay in Philadelphia and move to its current location, 11000 Roosevelt Blvd., a 63-acre site that was formerly the home of Eaton Corp.

Heintz's prospective owner, RDK, owns three other aerospace concerns, according to Ketchum. They are the Apex Corp., of Indianapolis; Trust Technologies, of Cleveland, and Aerobraze, of Cincinnati.

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