A famished housing market and a wave of debt proved too large to overcome for PlyMart, once one of the industry's brightest stars and a titan in the metro Atlanta market. Ply Mart senior vice president Bill Hofius told ProSales today, May 20, that the company is liquidating nearly all of its assets after not finding a buyer for its LBM division and will close its doors in the coming weeks.

Randy and Rich Mahaffey, co-owners and chairman and vice chairman of the company, respectively, have resigned from PlyMart's board of directors, along with president and CEO Ken Southerland. Additionally, all personnel not essential to the dealer's liquidation process were let go in the past two days.

The dealer has received a letter of intent from investors planning to purchase its stairs and specialty installed sales products divisions.

"Some of the great people in those divisions will end up with a good, strong, healthy future," Hofius told ProSales in a phone call. "But no one came in with a package good enough to buy our lumber and building products division."

The company had already dropped more than half of its 1,100 employees in the past year while mothballing 11 of its remaining 14 lumber yards.

PlyMart was ProSales' 2006 Dealer of the Year. At its peak, it operated 34 locations with sales of $347.9 million.

"It's hard enough to downsize a business under the best of circumstances, but we were also going at it as a lot of our long-term builder customers were experiencing difficulties and not able to pay their bills," Hofius said. He compares the catalysts behind PlyMart's final year to a "locomotive heading of the tracks and pulling all of the cars with it."

A shift in on-time payments from local builders last spring quickly amassed to $20 million in receivables past the 90-day mark. "It was pretty quick and too tough of a number to recover from," Hofius said.

PlyMart's owners had tried to turn back the damage by injecting their own substantial amount of cash back into the company, the executive said. Any funds received from the liquidation will be paid to creditors.

"They are devastated; it's not something they would wish on anyone," Hofius said. "They are concerned for the employees that now have to look for work, they are concerned for the suppliers that are struggling to get paid and the builders we supplied."