Decatur distributor closing on sale of Earl Gaudio & Son

Decatur distributor closing on sale of Earl Gaudio & Son

TILTON — Officials with Skeff Distributing expect to close today (Friday, Sept. 20) on the purchase of the Anheuser-Busch distributorship of Earl Gaudio & Son Inc.

John Skeffington, president and CEO of Skeff Distributing Co., the Decatur-based Anheuser distributor, said Thursday that the closing is scheduled for this morning.

He said he expects it to go through without any issues, and if so, Skeff Distributing will start operating the Tilton and Danville market on Monday.

"We will have sales people on the street selling for Tuesday delivery," Skeffington said.

Skeff Distributing is based in Decatur and serves the Springfield, Decatur and Champaign-Urbana markets and will add to its area the three-county territory of Earl Gaudio & Son, which includes Vermilion, Edgar and Clark counties.

Skeff said 16 employees, which is most of the employees left at the Gaudio facility at 1844 Georgetown Road in Tilton, were offered employment with Skeff, and about five declined. He said sales employees and merchandisers will all still be based in Danville but not at the Tilton facility. He said those employees will work out of their homes, and the Gaudio facility in Tilton is not part of the purchase.

Earl Gaudio & Son has been a longtime Danville-area distributorship, but the corporation filed for bankruptcy in July.

According to court records, on more than 50 occasions, the corporation had bounced or failed to pay for product delivered by Anheuser-Busch, and incurred debts to Anheuser-Busch, failed to pay tax obligations of the corporation, owing the Illinois Department of Revenue $206,979 and the Internal Revenue Service $214,174.

About one month prior to the bankruptcy filing, the corporation's largest shareholder, Earl Gaudio, 91, of Danville, had filed a motion in Vermilion County Circuit Court, requesting a preliminary injunction to remove Vice President Dennis Gaudio and Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Eric Gaudio as directors and officers of the corporation, claiming they violated their fiduciary duty to the business, according to court records.

The motion for a preliminary injunction requested that the court appoint a receiver to do an accounting of the business, recover corporate assets, pay corporate debts and carry on the business of the corporation, including continued negotiations for a sale. Dennis Gaudio and Eric Gaudio already were in discussions about a possible sale of the business when the request for a preliminary injunction was filed in June, according to court documents.

The court appointed First Midwest Bank as temporary custodian of the corporation and ordered an accounting and audit of the books, records and accounts, and in July, the court approved the sale of Earl Gaudio & Son to Skeff Distributing.

Skeffington said Skeff Distributing employs 93 and will have 109 employees after the sale is final. He said the company is expanding its 92,000-square-foot facility in northeast Decatur not only to handle this expansion of territory but to handle its growing business in its current territory. He said the facility will be expanded to 160,000 square feet, and Skeff will be able to serve the Gaudio territory without having a facility here.

He said Skeff is a larger organization with more people dedicated to specific jobs, and although the Gaudio employees have always done a good job, Skeff's larger operation enables it to bring to do things that Gaudio could not.

Skeff said this is the company's third acquisition, but considering the circumstances of this one, it is probably the hardest. He said he and his family are friends with Earl Gaudio, and that makes this tough.

"But we are excited because as one door closes another one opens, and we have the opportunity to serve that market basically with the same people they were working with," said Skeff, who added that it has been a tough year, but the goal is to get the operation here back to normal and be the best supplier for the customers.

He said the company will continue to invest in the local area through marketing and by supporting philanthropic causes as Gaudio & Son has done.

He said it should be business as normal on Monday in that market.

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increvable wrote on September 22, 2013 at 1:09 am

How do you screw up an Anheuser-Busch distributorship? It's a license to print money. The younger Gaudios must have been bleeding the business dry for their own enrichment.