Once, twice… Assets of cotton gin SC auctioned in bankruptcy case | Company
The last pieces of a historic cotton business that has served South Carolina farmers for decades will go on sale starting this week as a bankruptcy court trustee seeks to recover money for creditors of Rickenbaker Gin, including nearly $6.5 million owed to the SC Department of Agriculture. .
An online auction including land, equipment, vehicles and a mobile home is scheduled for June 22-28, with bids being accepted on the JR Dixon Auctions website. Kevin Campbell, a Mount Pleasant lawyer who is a trustee in the bankruptcy liquidation of Rickenbaker Gin, has hired auction house Sumter – as well as real estate companies Jackson L. Cobb & Associates of Columbia and Harbins Two Inc. of Isle of Palms – to dispose of company assets.
Rickenbaker Gin, located in tiny Clarendon County Davis Station, reported assets totaling about $1.3 million against debts of more than $8 million. Most of the money is owed to the state Department of Agriculture, which bailed out dozens of cotton and grain farmers who had hired the company to negotiate the sale of their crops.
Department spokeswoman Eva Moore said the agency has yet to collect the money it is owed and it’s unclear how much it might be left over after commissions and other sales fees. . The bankruptcy estate will receive 10% of the above proceeds. Auction and real estate companies will share an additional 15%.
There are also mortgages attached to some of the properties being sold – collateral for a bank and some of the high-interest loans that gin owner Burchell “Burt” Rickenbaker received from a longtime family friend. JC Black. Campbell is contesting the mortgages, but their validity will need to be determined by a court before any proceeds can be distributed to creditors. There are also deed restrictions on a large parcel for sale that prohibit several types of businesses – including Walmart, drugstores and discount retailers – from occupying the site.
Auction company owner Rafe Dixon referred questions to Campbell, who could not be reached for comment.
Items up for auction include:
- A 30.5 acre stretch of farmland, which includes deed restrictions.
- A 975 square foot home on a half acre lot that once housed seasonal workers.
- A 1987 Fleetwood mobile home.
- A dozen trucks, trailers and a recovered John Deere tractor.
- Contents of an office building including desks, chairs, filing cabinets, copier and printer.
- Grain silos, aerial seed houses and cotton ginning equipment.
The auction follows a report by court-appointed examiner George DuRant that describes years of questionable financial dealings at Rickenbaker Gin, including high-interest undocumented loans to support operations and transfers of property that have been compared to a “game of shells” as creditors began to demand their money.
Rickenbaker, son of the company’s founder, has been in charge of the gin since 2011. DuRant, in his report, said Rickenbaker had provided little help in rebuilding the company’s finances.
A criminal investigation into gin’s finances was dropped in November when the 3rd Circuit District Attorney’s Office declined to pursue a case brought by the state’s law enforcement division.
Rickenbaker Gin was founded in 1945.
Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_