ASHLAND — Rochester Shoe Tree, Inc., has sold the assets of its 97-year-old cedar shoe tree and shoe care product manufacturing operation, preserving jobs that would have been lost had the company shut down.

The company retained Equity Partners HG in late April to seek a buyer for the company. Equity Partners conducted an exhaustive marketing process that resulted in 32 groups executing confidentiality agreements and proceeding to conduct due diligence. Ultimately, three groups submitted acquisition structures for the owner and secured creditors to consider.

Eventually, they negotiated with one of the company’s suppliers that agreed to allow the operations to continue at the Ashland facility, saving as many as 90 jobs. While the offer paid only 80-90% of what the company’s secured creditors, Northway Bank and TD Bank, were owed, both banks agreed to allow the transaction to move forward, rather than proceed with foreclosing on the assets in the hopes of possibly making up the shortfall. That allows for the preservation of jobs in the community.

Hank Waida, a managing director at Equity Partners HG, said in a statement: “We are extremely pleased that all constituents agreed to work together and allow this transaction to move forward. Without the cooperation of both Northway Bank and TD Bank, this long-standing business would have had to close its doors and all employees would have lost their jobs.”

Founded in 1922, Rochester Shoe Tree is one of the largest providers of aromatic red cedar shoe trees in the world and has been a fixture in Ashland, employing both hourly and salaried employees. Other red cedar products manufactured there include coat hangers, gift boxes, shoeshine kits, shoe racks, cedar blocks, and hardwood display trees. The company also manufactures a variety of shoe cleaners, lotions, creams, polishes, and leather protectors, and it distributes shoe brushes, shoehorns, shoelaces, polishing cloths, and backroom supplies, providing retailing clients with all their shoe care needs.

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