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Published: 2/8/2006

Troubled firm back on job at paint shop

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The Michigan firm that last week ran into trouble meeting financial obligations steering Toledo Jeep Assembly complex's new paint shop has returned to the task.

Still, liens from construction firms seeking payment for supplies and services are piling up.

Employees of Haden International Group Inc. are preparing the $900 million multifactory complex's paint shop for production of redesigned Jeep Wranglers as scheduled, a DaimlerChrysler AG spokesman confirmed yesterday.

Haden, which withdrew from the project Friday because it wouldn't be able to meet payroll this week, has been on the job since Monday. Company officials did not return calls yesterday seeking an explanation.

A spokesman for New York's Palladium Equity Partners LLC, a major Haden stakeholder, declined to comment yesterday.

Four contractors - including three from the Toledo area - filed 15 liens totaling nearly $3.5 million in Lucas County yesterday against Haden and other parties.

Those are in addition to 17 liens totaling $5.9 million filed this year in Lucas County by 14 companies, as well as actions stemming back to 2004 after Haden abruptly took over the paint shop project from Chrysler's first pick, Germany's Drr Group.

Chrysler is named in some of the liens, and the automaker is aware of them, said spokesman Markus Mainka.

"We are working with all interested parties on the current situation," he said.

The most important factor for Chrysler, Mr. Mainka said, is that work at the new complex's paint shop is continuing. The complex off Stickney Avenue is partially owned and operated by Haden and two other suppliers. They will supply Chrysler with painted bodies and chassis for both two-door and four-door versions of the Wrangler in an arrangement unique to North America.

The complex is scheduled to begin production of four-door versions of the redesigned Wrangler in July, with less complicated two-door versions to follow. Prototype production is to begin this month.

"The operation is still going, and we don't anticipate an effect on our [production] launch," Chrysler spokesman Ed Saenz said.

Several local firms are among those seeking payment from Haden and sometimes Chrysler, among others.

Bayes Inc. of Perrysburg filed four liens of $310,207 each yesterday in the Lucas County Recorder's Office, and Industrial Power Systems of Toledo filed nine liens totaling nearly $1 million. A.A. Boos & Sons of Oregon filed a lien yesterday of $333,741, and VM Systems Inc. of Toledo was among earlier complainants, with three liens totaling $458,423.

The biggest single lien filed against Haden and Chrysler this year was for more than $2 million, from McNaughton McKay Electric of Madison Heights, Mich.

A McNaughton McKay executive declined to comment yesterday.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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