Tarboro tractor-maker faces financial problems
Posted July 29, 2008 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2008 1:31 p.m. EDT
Tarboro, N.C. — An Edgecombe County tractor manufacturer’s financial problems have left thousands of customers and dealers feeling cheated.
Documents show Farmtrac owes more than $55 million and was in such poor financial shape it couldn't afford to declare bankruptcy.
The company is in receivership, when a court names an attorney to take charge of the business. Tarboro Attorney James Marrow Jr. was named the court-appointed receiver for the company on Feb. 27.
Marrow described the situation as “an expensive mess.”
On April 24, Marrow said, he met with up to 50 tractor dealers from across the country to explain the company's situation.
Dealers like Billy Yeargin, of Yeargin Farm Supply Inc. in Oxford, have been left with tractors they can’t sell with Farmtrac warranties.
“I feel duped. My customers feel duped,” Yeargin said.
Horse farmer John Yount purchased his $23,000 Farmtrac tractor from Yeargin. He said that after a few weeks, it started having problems, including leaking hydraulic fluid.
Yount bought his tractor with a three-year warranty, but when he called to get it fixed, he found out his warranty was no good.
“What I got is a piece of junk that won’t run, that I can’t get parts for, that is worthless,” Yount said.
Yeargin said company representatives said they are broke and can’t honor any warranties.
“Somebody has a motor that blows up or something like that – I can’t afford to pay for stuff like that,” Yeargin said.
Farmtrac's financial problems were apparent in January, when the company temporarily laid off employees. Marrow said some of those employees had been working for the company for 20 or more years.
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into the company.
Marrow said he has received phones calls from state attorneys general's offices across the country, including North Carolina. He has rehired some employees as he tries to get the factory ready so it can be sold.