Roper Brothers Lumber Co., the 40th-biggest company on this year's ProSales 100, officially filed Wednesday for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy law, five days after the Virginia dealer closed the doors on its six stores.

The bare-bones initial filings were made in Richmond at the U.S. Bankuptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The filings said Roper had between 200 and 999 employees and both assets and liabilities between $10 million and $50 million. They also listed $2.1 million in obligations to the company's 20 biggest unsecured creditors, a roster that includes several lumber suppliers.

"In the midst of an economic storm that has battered our industry and our business, we deeply regret having to take this action," company chairman Philip R. Roper III wrote in a letter to employees that was placed in employees' Dec. 11 pay envelopes, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reportedydusvvzf. "We have concluded that liquidating our assets in an orderly manner will provide the best opportunity for the company to maximize its ability to protect your interests."

According to its website, Petersburg, Va.-based Roper runs four lumberyards and a millwork shop, all in Virginia, under the Roper name. It also owns Valley Lumber in Winchester, Va., and Taylor Brothers Lumber in Lynchburg, Va.

Roper ranked 40th on this year's ProSales 100, with 2008 sales of $100 million, down 31% from the previous year's $145 million. Ninety-five percent of its sales were to pros.

That same ProSales 100 report indicated Roper had just five branches going into this year, down from eight in 2008. It also reported having 175 employees.