Groton apparel, promotion supplier Tees Plus closing

Groton - Production at Tees Plus, the screen printing, embroidery and promotional products company is drawing to a close, the chief executive officer of the employee-owned company said Friday.

Allen Graham, president and CEO of the facility at 1425 Gold Star Highway, said most of his staff have been laid off.

"As of December 31, we had 50 employes, 46 in Groton," he said. "Today there are six people on the payroll, all in Groton."

In a statement released late on Friday, Graham said the company, a division of EDH Inc., was a victim of the economic downturn, poor sales and a lack of working capital and the inability to secure more. He said the company's debt far exceeds its value.

The company has been known widely as an apparel and promotion supplier to the Special Olympics and DARE, the anti-drug education program taught by police officers in local elementary schools.

"The company has ceased operations and is in the process of winding down the business," Graham said in a statement emailed to The Day late Friday afternoon. "While it is possible a buyer for the entire business may come forward, we are not counting on it."

According to an online database maintained by the investigative-reporting group ProPublica, Tees Plus, through the Tees Employee Stock Ownership Trust, was awarded more than $3.4 million in federal stimulus money in December 2010 through a Small Business Administration loan program meant to aid companies that could not acquire funding through traditional means.

Graham did not respond to an email request for comment.

"I heard they were going," Barbara Strother, an economic development specialist with the town's planning department, said. "If that's the case, its heartbreaking. The company started in a gentleman's basement. It was a home-grown business."

From there the company grew to 34,848 square feet on a 6-acre parcel that was once a car dealership and auto body shop. Tee's Plus took over the property in 1994 and expanded with a 7,900-square-foot warehouse.

Strother said there has been at least one interested party asking questions about the availability of the property. She said, even as one company prepares to leave, you have to think, how can that business space get filled.

"We don't have too many empty storefronts," she said.

Day staff writer Lee Howard contributed to this report.

c.potter@theday.com

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