Once upon a time, Fuller Brush Company was a household name in housewares. Your grandmother bought her wet mop from “Fuller Brush Men,” the company’s army of charismatic door-to-door salespeople.
But after more than 100 years in business, Fuller Brush has had some tough times. The household supplies company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012. Eight months later, Capital of Victory Park, a Chicago-based private equity firm bought Fuller Brush for what sources say was at least $ 12 million.
Now Fuller Brush is liquidating its product inventory and is looking for new owners again. Victory Park, who counts Giordano pizza chain among its investments, did not respond to interview requests. But there are multiple bidders, says Count Copy-Fuller, an independent Fuller Brush distributor. Copy-Fuller, formerly known as Jeff Pergoli, says he has been selling Fuller Brush products for over 40 years.
A recording on the telephone hotline of the company dealer confirms that the household company is looking for offers. “The current ownership of Fuller Brush and Stanley Home Products has decided to undertake certain strategic initiatives, one of which will result in a one-time inventory liquidation,” said Larry Gray, vice president of sales, in the taped call. “After October – and with a possible change of business owner – there could be a period of at least two to four months during which inventory will not be available to distributors or consultants,” adds Gray.
Richard Levy, CEO and founder of Victory Park, “sees that this turnaround over the past five years has not been very successful,” said Copy-Fuller, 65. , and he doesn’t really care if Fuller Brush goes bankrupt because he has other companies he makes money with.
About six months ago, Fuller Brush reduced its product count to about 40, from about 160, says Copy-Fuller. Of the 40 products still available, many are already out of stock, he says. The company has been shutting down its product lines since July, according to another Fuller distributor on its website.
Fuller Brush will shut down its website, where resellers like Copy-Fuller can purchase products at wholesale prices, by November 1. Resellers will not be able to purchase wholesale products for at least two months. The majority of Fuller Brush’s sales come from door-to-door salespeople, Copy-Fuller explains.
“We strongly suggest that you purchase in October the inventory you need to supply your customers in the coming months,” Gray urges dealers on the taped call.
The Fuller Brush value was founded in 1906 in Kansas by Alfred Fuller. Its headquarters, according to the company’s website, is now in Napa Valley, California. Copy-Fuller says the company entered a downward spiral after Sara Lee, who bought the company in 1968, sold it in 1989. When Victory Park bought Fuller Brush in October 2012, it parted ways with the company. the company’s manufacturer, Fuller Industries, based in Kansas.
Copy-Fuller also says that David Sabin, who was imported from a baby products company in the Los Angeles suburbs as CEO of Fuller Brush by Victory Park, also never took much interest in the company. Sabine, who was planning a return for the company at the start of its tenure, indicates that its base is Napa, in his LinkedIn profile. “The problem with Fuller Brush was that there was a president who didn’t have an active full-time involvement,” says Copy-Fuller. “We wage wars without a good leader.”
Fuller Brush’s siege has been fixed in this updated story.