Checker Motors’ debt to Walker Tool & Die has been paid by GM

Checker Motors’ debt to Walker Tool & Die has been paid by GM
by Julia Bauer | The Grand Rapids Press

WALKER — When Walker Tool & Die Inc. found its name at the top of the creditors list for bankrupt Checker Motors Corp., onlookers wondered if the supplier would ever see the $1.5 million it was owed.

But last week, the money came from another bankrupt company: General Motors Corp.

“GM wanted to move the tools out of Checker to use for other parts,” Bob Borgeld, Walker Tool’s general manager, said Monday. “The tools are going to Canada. Before they could ship the tools across the border, they had to pay us for them.”

A double whammy of plummeting auto sales and a tough economy led to Checker’s demise, ending its plan to reorganize and survive bankruptcy. Instead, two Canadian auto suppliers, Narmco Group LLC and Van-Rob Inc., paid $1.6 million to make the parts once built at Checker’s Kalamazoo base. Checker had been in business since 1922 and made its taxis until 1984. Since then, most of its business was parts production for GM and other automakers.

Tooling was transferred to Canada to make the new Buick Lacrosse.

Borgeld said Walker Tool, based at 2411 Walker Ave. NW, had liens on the tools so it expected to eventually get paid, despite Checker’s bankruptcy. But the delay dented the toolmaker’s income.

“It hurt our cash flow for a while,” Borgeld said. “Now, it helps an awful lot.

“You’ve got to really stay on top of it,” the diemaker warned. “I was making phone calls daily for the last four months, just to stay on top of what’s happening.

“It is a bit of a challenge.”

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