UPDATE: City sending MBI default letter

By Jeff Ferrell – bio|email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – The shotgun marriage between MB Industries (MBI) and the city of Shreveport has taken another step toward heading back to court.

The first time, MBI won the right to take over the old Beairdco building.  Now a year and a half later, it could be the city trying to force them out.

September 2009:  KSLA News 12 was given a tour inside the dark, still-unused shell of the Beairdco manufacturing facility in south Shreveport; left empty after the bankruptcy of Beaird Industries in the Fall of 2008.  Fast forward 9-months later, to June 2010, and it looks much the same.

What has changed is the amount of patience by the landlord to get business going in here.  "We have a tremendous sense of urgency with regard to that facility," declared Mayor Cedric Glover, during a Monday (6/07/10) Shreveport City Council work session.

Glover informed council members that the city would be sending a contract default letter to the current tenants, MBI, "Unless they can establish they are not at this point in default we're going to find them in default."

MBI Shreveport representative Rick Fayard called the Mayor's actions unfair and added, "If they're saying that we're not maintaining it properly our position is, we are!"

Everything hinges, said Fayard, on getting an order from a company:  "Right," continued Fayard, "to hire us to do something so that we can get money."  Then, he said, would come the hiring, the plant repairs and finally the manufacturing.

But despite traveling thousands of miles and trip after trip they cannot find a customer for their primary product which is explosion-resistant modular buildings, or even to find a company to use part of this facility.

Fayard said if the default letter coming from the city of Shreveport ends up being just the first step in an eviction process he advises the city against it, saying it would not be the best move for either party.

But here was the 'legal speak' by Mayor Glover to council members Monday about what happens if the city finds MBI in default:  "… and to move forward with the necessary legal action to be able to execute all of the default provisions of the lease agreement."

That started this exchange with Fayard:
JEFF FERRELL:  "Does it sound like the city is trying to start the process of trying to get rid of you guys?"
RICK FAYARD:  "It appears that way.  Sure it does.  It appears that way."
FERRELL:  "And you said you'll fight it in court?
FAYARD:  "Absolutely.  We'll do whatever it takes.  We're not wrong."

For Mayor Glover, that's not the point, instead telling council members they might have had a 'Fortune 500' company in the Beairdco building if they hadn't lost the first legal battle with MBI.  But this fight could be just getting started.

Fayard did tell us, they are close to a potential deal with a company.  But he won't say anything more for fear of scaring off the client.

Some observers say that the current misunderstandings could at least partially stem from the high expectations created by MBI after suing the city to take over the building lease, after Beairdco folded.

In October of 2008, MBI President Fred Gossen Jr. told KSLA News 12 in a telephone interview, "We (MBI) would be in a unique position to get people back to work quickly."

MBI even began accepting applications from several hundred former Beairdco employees in January of last year, with the promise of the plant opening back up soon.  Many of them are still waiting for that phone call .

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