Florida electronics firm suddenly closes doors

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After more than 50 years in business, Florida-based Larry Smith Electronics closed down in January. “I had heard there was going to be a restructuring,” says Richard Vail, a technician for the electronics retailer. “It was pretty shocking.”

There are differing theories as to what led to the shutdown, from mismanagement to growing competition. Former employees blame the company’s financial problems on poor management from the new owners. Smith, who started the company in New Jersey in 1952, died about 10 years ago. His son, Larry (Bud) Smith, sold the business about five years ago. Calls to the company’s board members and attorney weren’t returned at press time.

Outside accountants were brought in to go over the books and, based on their review, the board concluded the company’s finances were beyond repair and decided to shut down, according to Ken French, who worked for LSE as an audio/visual manager.

“All I know is they weren’t paying the bills,” he says. “Whether it was intentional or just doing things wrong, I don’t know.”

Now Larry Smith Electronics is up for sale. Michael Moecker & Associates, a Florida-based insolvency firm, has been appointed to handle the liquidation of the company’s $1 million inventory in uninstalled marine accessories and parts.

“Our immediate goal is to liquidate the assets of the company for the benefit of the creditors,” says Mike Phelan, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the insolvency firm. Phelan estimates the company owes about $2 million to $3 million. Its annual sales were $20 million in 2006.

The insolvency firm is hoping to find a buyer for a subsidiary in Italy as well.