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Archive for Thursday, May 6, 2004

E and E Display Group sale looms

Former chief executive seeks to buy Lawrence manufacturer

May 6, 2004

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A possible sale of E and E Display Group has led to a change in leadership at the Lawrence-based manufacturer.

Daryl Morgison, the company's president and chief executive, left the company on Friday after 27 years with the manufacturer of store fixtures and displays.

Both Morgison and E and E Display officials confirmed that he left the company to pursue efforts to put together an investor group to buy the business from the children of Roger and Eleanor White, who founded the company 51 years ago.

"I am pursuing a purchase, and I'm pretty optimistic about it," Morgison said on Wednesday. "It is a great group of people out there, the business has good clients, and it is a good industry."

Kathy Schmidt, the daughter of Roger and Eleanor White, has taken over as company president and CEO. She said the company was interested in selling the business, 910 E. 29th St, and that the company had been approached by other possible buyers, but declined to name them. She said it was her family's hope that the company would be bought by a buyer that would continue operations in Lawrence. The company also is owned by Ed White, Keith White and Paul White.

"Our desire is for the company to continue in Lawrence and to continue providing employment for area residents," Schmidt said.

Morgison said his plans were to keep the company's operations in Lawrence.

The business employs about 170 people, which is down from about 250 people as of late last year. The company cut 50 positions in November after suffering through a sales slump related to the economic slowdown. The company manufactures in-store advertising displays and other fixtures primarily for retailers. The company experienced a drop in business as retailers became more cautious in opening new stores.

Schmidt said business was fine but hadn't returned to pre-2001 levels. Morgison, though, said there were positive signs for the industry.

"Retailers are starting to get a little more aggressive with their growth plans," Morgison said.

Schmidt said that she hoped to have a deal completed with a new buyer within the next couple of months.

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