March 23, 2023
Universal Douglas Official Statement Offers Few Details
COVID-related challenges are said to have caused the abrupt shutdown
Yesterday, Universal Douglas abruptly announced the immediate closure of its business. Our Wednesday morning phone call to Atar Capital, the private equity firm that owns Universal Douglas, was not met with cooperation when we identified ourselves as media seeking to get information on the closure of UDLA.
On Thursday afternoon, a Michigan public relations firm contacted inside.lighting and shared the following statement from Steve Wybo, Chief Restructuring Officer for Universal Douglas Lighting Americas Inc.
“The lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit all sides of Universal Douglas Lighting Americas Inc., like so many other high-tech manufacturers around the globe. A combination of shortages, delays and high costs in industries vital to the LED industry has caused Universal Douglas to cease manufacturing operations and close its facilities across North America."
"The company has commenced layoff notifications of employees at the manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico and Canada as required by law. The company is working to fill as many outstanding customer orders as possible. Management is supporting a chief restructuring officer, who is managing the next phase of these operations as the company moves toward strategic alternatives.”
— Steve Wybo, Chief Restructuring Officer
Universal Douglas Lighting Americas Inc.
The only new piece of information offered by Mr. Wybo (that wasn’t stated in yesterday’s memo to customers) is that COVID-related challenges are apparently to blame for the sudden shutdown. Atar Capital acquired Universal Douglas in March 2021 – one year after the COVID lockdowns occurred in the United States and many months into supply chain challenges that stymied many industries, including lighting.
We responded to the public relations firm requesting that Mr. Wybo answer the following questions. If we get substantive answers we will report them.
Are employees receiving severance pay for a period of time greater than what may be minimally required by law? All, most, some, none?
Will all agent partners be paid all commissions due for UDLA sales that shipped and invoiced?
Will all vendors receive full payments for what is due to them?
Why was the company shut down so abruptly? Why didn’t the company take a more customer-centric approach to give a 60, 90-day window to wind down the company?
Please explain what efforts were made to sell UDLA to another company.
In a memo to distributors yesterday, Mr. Wybo stated “…we ask that you continue to support our Company and its stakeholders with the same high level partnership…” Does UDLA feel that the manner in which it shut the company down was done in a way that is consistent with a “high level partnership”?
UPDATE - MARCH 24, 2023: The public relations firm has informed us that they will not be providing answers to any of inside.lighting's questions.