The Bull Sells For $2.4 Million Post Bankruptcy

Earlier this year we blogged about the plight of the Sheboygan Falls-based golf course The Bull at Pinehurst Farms. Now we have an update. In late June, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the course, which had been saddled with a $4.2 million debt to Wisconsin Bank & Trust, for $2.4 million. 

According to the Sheboygan Press, the property, which is the only golf course in the state designed by Jack Nicklaus, was bought by John Dunfee and Randy Groth, both of Cedarburg: 

Dunfee and Groth — who have known each other their whole lives — have embarked on multiple business ventures together, including their current agricultural commodities trading group, LaBudde Group, but Dunfee said The Bull was really his brainchild.

 

Being an avid golfer, Dunfee has played the course and loved it for years. When he saw it was set for a second sheriff’s sale, he reached out to the bank’s attorney in early June.

 

Dunfee said after the previous failed bid of $2.2 million, he was told he would need to make an offer that was at least $200,000 higher. For him, the price was too good not to bid.

It is not often that the public gets this sort of inside information about a bankruptcy, so we wanted to highlight a few things. 

Timing Is Everything 

First, is the steep discount the buyers received. We have no doubt the creditor would have liked to see a purchase price closer to the $4.2 million it was owed, but the fact that the previous owners filed for bankruptcy, combined with the financial crisis pushed the purchase price way down. 

This is a great example of why we counsel our clients on the importance of timing as it relates to bankruptcy. While nobody could have predicted the current pandemic and resulting financial crisis, there are indications that golf is not as popular with Millennials and Gen Z. This could have a long-term impact on the golf market. 

Hanson & Payne is a very business-minded firm. We are always thinking about the broader business implications of the legal advice we give because we know that is important to our clients. And it is important to us as well. Our team has deep roots in the Milwaukee area, so we want to do what we can to help our clients thrive.  

The Role of the Courts

This sale also illustrates the role the bankruptcy court plays in managing the sale of distressed assets. The Bull was foreclosed on last October, and the property was set to be sold at a Sheriff’s sale. 20 minutes before the sale was scheduled to begin, it was cancelled because the course’s owners filed for bankruptcy. 

Next, a group of minority owners attempted to buy the course, but that fell through. Another buyer then offered $3.1 million for the course before pulling the offer. Shortly before Dunfee and Groth made their successful bid, an unnamed buyer attempted to purchase the course for $2.2 million. The bank rejected this offer and a second Sheriff’s sale was scheduled. 

That’s when Dunfee and Groth stepped in. The bank accepted their offer of $2.4 million, and the court approved the sale. In theory, the court could have demanded a higher purchase price, but that is unlikely in scenarios like this where it has taken months to find a buyer, and the main creditor accepts the terms proposed by a potential buyer. 

A Rare Peek Inside

It was interesting to see this case play out in the courts and in the local papers. Few bankruptcies draw this sort of attention, which is probably a good thing, but when they do it is important to follow along.

Debt Reduction During the Pandemic

If you are having trouble paying your bills, you are not alone. The financial crisis accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on millions of people across the country. Here in Milwaukee, many are struggling to make ends meet in these uncertain times

At Hanson & Payne, we are fielding a lot of calls from Milwaukee area residents who have questions about their debt relief options. And we would like to stress that yes, options is plural. There are several paths forward for debtors who are struggling, and we do our best to help our clients find the best one for them. 

Pandemic Specific Programs 

It’s virtually impossible to detail them here because lawmakers and lenders keep changing the rules, but there are a variety of debt relief options open to people who can trace their financial difficulties back to the pandemic. Our firm is keeping up to date on these programs and policies, as are reputable credit counselors. 

Meeting With A Credit Counselor

Something that won’t directly reduce your debt, but may help you manage it better is meeting with a credit counselor. Credit counselors are trained to help people struggling to pay their debts create a budget and assess their overall financial health. 

Getting advice from a neutral third party that really understands the ins and outs of personal finance may be all you need to get things back under control. Or it may be the first step in a longer process since meeting with a credit counselor is required if you want to file for bankruptcy. 

Because of this, the bankruptcy court keeps a list of approved credit counselors on its website. We recommend sticking to this list if you are looking for a credit counselor because there are a lot of scam artists out there who pose as credit counselors, but do little more than drain you of whatever money you have left. If you need assistance sorting through the court’s list, or would like a recommendation, our firm would be happy to point you in the right direction.

Debt Negotiation

Debt negotiation may be a good option for you if you are delinquent on your payments, or if your creditors are threatening to file a collection lawsuit against you. Creditors are often willing to reduce your monthly payments, extend your repayment period, or even forgive some of your debt if you are upfront with them about the difficulty you are having. They know that giving you some flexibility may keep you from filing bankruptcy. 

Creditors do not like it when their debtors file for bankruptcy because it means they will get repaid pennies on the dollar, if at all. Since our firm handles bankruptcies, getting contacted by us on your behalf sends a signal to your debtors that cutting a deal may be the only way they get paid back. 

Bankruptcy 

The most drastic debt relief option is filing for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy can help you wipe your financial slate clean and get you the fresh start you need to rebuild your life. Our firm can help you decide which type of bankruptcy is right for you, then guide you through the process. 

Debt Relief For Milwaukee Area Residents 

Determining what debt relief option is best for you is not something you have to do on your own. The attorneys at Hanson & Payne have years of experience helping Milwaukee area residents turn their financial lives around. As the pandemic-caused financial crisis worsens, you can count on us to guide you and advise you

Will Briggs & Stratton Find Greener Grass On The Other Side Of Bankruptcy?

If you’ve ever push-mowed a lawn or used a snow blower, there’s a good chance you were running a Briggs & Stratton motor. For over 100 years, the Wauwatosa-based manufacturer dominated the market for small engines. Now, it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Why Briggs & Stratton Filed for Bankruptcy

The company, which at one time employed 11,000 people in the Milwaukee area alone, has struggled to turn a profit in recent years. The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have made things worse. After the company skipped a $6.7 million interest payment on its substantial debts in June, the writing was on the wall. However, this is not the end for Briggs & Stratton. 

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is also known as reorganization bankruptcy, and that is exactly what Briggs & Stratton intends to do. Instead of winding down operations and closing up shop, they intend to regroup, retool, and reemerge with new owners. 

KPS Capital Partners LP, a private equity firm that owns a lot of manufacturing companies, agreed to buy all of Briggs’ assets for approximately $550 million. A higher bidder could come in, but when a deal like this is so broadly announced that rarely happens.

KPS is also providing funding so Briggs & Stratton can continue to operate while their case makes its way through the bankruptcy courts. This is not uncommon. As the likely buyer, KPS will want to protect its investment, and that means keeping it up and running and making whatever money it can. 

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “The private equity firm also said it has entered into an agreement in principle with the United Steelworkers of America for a new collective bargaining agreement for Briggs hourly employees represented by the union in the Milwaukee area. The agreement would become effective upon completion of the acquisition and reorganization.” This is a big hurdle to clear so smoothly.

One thing that is particularly interesting about the KPS deal is that the buyer has already announced it intends to aggressively grow the company through “strategic acquisitions.” This is quite the change from the message Briggs & Stratton was sending out pre-bankruptcy. Earlier this year, the company announced it would sell off parts of its business. This change in direction highlights the way filing for bankruptcy can open up new options for a business. Avenues that were previously closed can open back up after debts are reduced and the business leaders have space to craft a clear vision for the future. 

Bankruptcy Opens New Doors

As we weather the current economic downturn it is likely that more businesses will find themselves the same situation as Briggs & Stratton. But as their current plan for moving forward shows, this is not a bad thing. Bankruptcy opens new opportunities and can allow a company on the edge to survive and thrive. The business-minded legal team at Hanson & Payne has helped countless business owners and commercial lenders in the Milwaukee area navigate the bankruptcy system. We would be honored to assist you during your time of need.