After a global search costing thousands of dollars, Springer Aerospace Holdings Ltd. found its white knight on the farm next door in Echo Bay.
Three hundred and fifty potential investors were invited to bid on the troubled aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul business, which included an air strip, at the refurbishment facility located east of Sault Ste. Marie.
A dozen of them were sufficiently interested to conduct due diligence.
But as SooToday reported, only one viable offer was found, a $5.5-million injection from a new corporation, 1000488927 Ontario Inc.
The new business was incorporated on March 28.
Springer entered CCAA (Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act) protection in last November.
A SooToday review of corporate registry records shows the new firm has four directors.
Two of them have previously been involved with the aircraft refurbisher: company veteran Daniel Springer and Christopher Grant, who more recently became its chief executive officer.
The two other directors are new to the company and both Echo Bay neighbours: Tom Fremlin and his brother Vic.
Both men are known from their Northshore Tractor Ltd. dealership nearby.
Vic also owns Lock City Dairies in Sault Ste. Marie.
"I've done a lot of crazy things in my days," Vic tells SooToday.
"A lot of them turned out pretty good. The dairy was a crazy idea. I had some people thought I was crazy on this deal, some professional people. I said look, I'm an entrepreneur. We understand that things are rough this time of year, but we can't afford to lose any jobs in this area. We can't lose that. If our township loses those jobs, that's like Algoma Steel moving out of the Sault.
"I'm their neighbour. I'm a farmer. I grew up there with Dan. It's been there 52 years. I drove around that place about three weeks before I was making the deal. I'm across the road. I own a thousand acres. I'm working across the road from them with an excavator, clearing the land for the farm.
"I just drove there and went in and saw Dan and we talked. He was sitting at that chair, very, very depressed. I walked in and I said: 'How's it going?' He told me: 'I'm going to be screwed. They're going to shut this place down.'
"I couldn't see that happening. Nobody wanted to help out and invest in it. So that was it."
Brother Tom Fremlin talks in glowing terms about the Springer workforce, especially Dan Springer.
"Dan's been a good neighbour and hired all the people in the community. It's a shame to see it go down. We didn't want to see that at all," Tom tells SooToday.
"We're working with Dan. Dan's completely in control of the airplanes that come in there. He's got airplanes booked for the next two or three years. They're good people. They're hard working."
Vic says he wants to expand the multi-talented aerospace company with another 30 employees.
"We're going to change it. We're going to make it all better. It's a worldwide company. A lot of people don't know there's only two places in the world you can go and get that done. It's very rare. They do everything there, right from top to bottom.
"There's planes in there from Morocco, all over the world. They are very good and they're very loyal to that company. We have a very good staff there. If you had to build that place again, you'd be into $30 to $50 million. I know one thing: I wasn't going to sit by and let it leave.
"I've been on the farm all my life. When things get hard working on the farm, when you're building things, I was taught to be very community minded."
On Tuesday, Justice Michael A. Penny of Ontario's Superior Court approved the Fremlin brothers' $5.5-million corporate rescue.
The deal includes all of Springer's lands and buildings at the Bar River Airport, and all shares in the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul business, allowing it to continue as a going concern.
Springer Aerospace's insolvency protection will continue as far as the end of this month to allow the transition to occur.