Framed Picture

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2008

City gives OK for industry to borrow $500,000

By Billy Davis

Eyeing a promise of 100 new jobs, City of Batesville elected officials on Tuesday voted unanimously to offer a $500,000 loan to industrial employer Framed Picture Enterprise.

Framed Picture manufactures picture frames, mirrors and other related merchandise from 482 Highway 6 West in Batesville, far from any other industries in town, in a plain brick-front building.

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The business is owned by the Brucker family of Memphis.

If Framed Picture qualifies for the loan, the money would come from the city’s so-called revolving loan fund. The city last year loaned Framed Picture $150,000, which is still being repaid over a five-year period.

In the newest agreement for the $500,000, the city offered Framed Picture a 10-year loan with a three-percent interest rate.

“I want you to understand that you’re allowing them to apply for the loan, and they still must meet all the requirements (to receive it),?? Colmon Mitchell, assistant city attorney, advised the mayor and board.

The city uses the loan monies to encourage economic development.

According to City Clerk Laura Herron, other past recipients of the city’s revolving loan have included $125,000 to Pride Auto Sales, Inc., which is still being repaid, and $350,000 to Heafner Motors, an amount that has since been paid off. 

Stipulations laid out by city officials Tuesday included a guarantee of 75 new jobs by December 31, 2009. Failure to reach that target could result in the interest rate jumping to 10 percent and the 10-year note coming due two years from December 31, 2009.

The loan would be given with a personal guaranty from the personal assets of the Brucker family, city officials also said. 

“We can do that,” Framed Picture president Ed Brucker, after hearing the stipulations, told city officials during an impromptu conference call.  

In fact, Brucker said he expects to introduce the new jobs at the Batesville plant by the first quarter of 2009.

“That’s like a new industry opening up,” Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons told the mayor and board after the conference call with Buckner.

Simmons attended the board meeting to tout promising news at Framed Picture. The company has purchased faster manufacturing equipment for its Batesville plant after partnering with retail stores such as Blockbuster, Borders bookstores, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Target, he said.

Many Panola Countians may recognize the longtime industry as the picture frame plant, but its  “number one” product is full-length mirrors, Simmons said.

Blockbuster stores are carrying framed movie posters that are manufactured by the Batesville plant. Framed Picture introduced its movie poster frame and prints in five Blockbuster stores, and that product is now shipped to all 4,500 stores, Simmons told the city officials.

At its annual convention, Blockbuster this year named Framed Picture its general merchandise supplier of the year.

Framed Picture has also won a contract with Toys ‘R’ Us for the movie poster frames, which are being sold on the toy company’s Web site, Frame Picture founder Isidor Bucker said this week.

“I’ve learned something new. I thought they just made frames,” Alderman Bill Dugger told Simmons.

Framed Picture has operated in Batesville since 1984 and was led for two decades by Alan Brucker. He passed away in March, and now his brother Ed serves as company president. 

“Alan led us this far and he is still with us today,” said Isidor Brucker. Alan’s wife Ruth still works for the company, he said.

In Batesville, the company operates a second facility on Van Voris, where mill employees cut lumber into the frame molds and frame mounting.  A second plant is located in Memphis.

The Batesville plant currently employs about 160 workers, Ed Brucker said this week.

Brucker told The Panolian Tuesday that the new equipment has been purchased and is awaiting delivery, but its introduction at the Batesville plant depends on the $500,000 loan from the City of Batesville.

“I’m not sure where we’re going to set it up until the city does what they’re going to do,” he said.