Béliveau & Comeau now bankrupt
Bankruptcy trustee Michel Paré, of Mallette, confirmed to the Stanstead Journal that Béliveau & Comeau has been officially bankrupt since last Friday, when he took over the operations of the company. On Friday, he and others from his firm were inside taking inventory and the locks were changed.
According to the principals of Béliveau & Comeau, brothers Jason and Eric Poitras, the business had been struggling since they took over in the dreaded atmosphere of September 2008, when the economy sank, followed a couple of months later by the bankruptcy of Chrysler. Even then the company had been sold by none other than Daimler-Benz to an equi- ty firm the year before, the German firm taking a multi-billion dollar loss on its investment. For the first time ever, gas prices in the United States had gone over $4.00 US a gallon during the summer and sales of the mainstream product of Chrysler, SUVs and trucks, took an unheard of beating.
“We took possession of the dealership at the worst moment,” concurred the brothers in an hour long
meeting at the Stanstead Journal. “From day one, we had cash flow problems and we struggled to meet our obligations. Yet, our sales, considering the situation, were not that bad and while we were struggling day by day, we were always managing to stay afloat.”
But, they told us, after their account manager at Desjardins left for retirement in March, things started to change for the worse. “We will admit that we were behind on our paperwork, but when a new account manager came on board, we were asked for papers after papers, and obviously our debt ratio did not conform to the term of the contract signed in 2008. They did not then and didn’t in March 2011 either.”
The Poitras told the Stanstead Journal that sometime in Spring they approached an investor who was willing to help them, they then decided to protect their business for a couple of weeks by asking to be put under the protec- tion of creditors act, which was done on May 6th. “This was giving us the breathing space that we needed, our investor –rumoured to be another Townships dealership-would have invested the money needed to keep the franchise going and the Caisse would have had either to take a loss or do a radical restructuration of its loan, but we would have continued going and our ten employees would still have their jobs today.”
Asked if they had had any visits by a Caisse official over the years, taking a look at their business and discussing things with them, they said that before the real trouble began no one visited the premise for a business meeting.
This is the third major bankruptcy to impact the Caisse this year, Granite Slab and the White House were the other two.
The Caisse’s sworn statement, by Jean-François Fontaine, has very strong language against the Poitras brothers, but the main con- tentious point is that the Caisse says that while the company showed $348,900 in used vehicles, the Caisse said that the amount should have been $82,465. All in all, in the statement of claims presented to the Court last week, the Caisse said that it is owed $630,000, while original loans backed by mortgages signed in 2008 were to the amount of $365,000. The Centre Local de Développement, who invested $150,000 is still owed the same amount, the Poitras’ claiming that they had paid the interest following an agreement with the CLD a couple of years ago.
The Caisse also lent a mortgage to one of the principals a couple of weeks before they said that they would recall the loans if a new investor was not found soon. Questions to the Caisse regarding other transactions could not be answered readily by its lawyer, Me. Charles Gosselin, who told us late yesterday afternoon that he had not had the proper time to look at them.
Michel Comeau told the Stanstead Journal that he and his brothers are owed $100,000 while he is owed personally $35,000 in back wages. “I will forfeit it because I’m so sad to see the place where me and my brothers worked for decades closed. This is a sad affair for us.”
The despondent Poitras brothers are hopeful that a new investor will be found soon and the business would reopen in the next couple of weeks. “We had such support from the community over the years that we owe it to them to reopen.”
Sources close to the situation told the Stanstead Journal that people already involved with the day to day operation of Béliveau & Comeau, with the backing of an existing dealership, are negotiating with the bankruptcy trustee to reopen the facility as soon as possible. At the late hour that this was said to us, it was impossible to reach any of the rumoured investors.
The Beliveau-Comeau car dealership is now bankrupt, as the notices on the front door make clear.