Skyway Luggage Takes Step Toward Liquidation

By Seattle Times business staff, Business & Technology
December 15, 2011

The receiver in charge of Skyway Luggage, owned by Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce Chairman Henry “Skip” Kotkins Jr., sought court approval this week to sell its Western Avenue building as the first step in an “immediate liquidation” of the century-old company.

The receiver in charge of Skyway Luggage, owned by Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce Chairman Henry “Skip” Kotkins Jr., sought court approval this week to sell its Western Avenue building as the first step in a planned liquidation of the century-old
company.

Kotkins, Skyway’s chairman and CEO, placed the company in receivership in June, saying it was unable to pay its debts. Receivership, an alternative to bankruptcy, is handled in Superior Court and gives an independent official control of the company to maximize payment for creditors.

Skyway’s other assets include another property, accounts receivable and a 73-foot sailboat, according to court filings.
Alan Davis, the receiver, said he’s hopeful Skyway’s trademarks, customer accounts and other assets can be sold together “so the Skyway brand and everything continues.” There’s no timetable for completing the asset sales, said Davis, a turnaround expert at Revitalization Partners in Seattle.

A financial statement filed by Davis in August put Skyway’s assets at $26.7 million, including $14.7 million in a note due for a loan made by the company to an unnamed Skyway shareholder, evidently Kotkins. Its liabilities were $16.4 million.

John Rizzardi, an attorney for Kotkins, declined to comment on the case. Kotkins could not be reached. The receiver has a deal to sell Skyway’s downtown Seattle building at 2501 Western Ave. for $2.1 million in cash, documents say. The property secures a $9.3 million claim against Skyway by Wells Fargo Bank.

Skyway’s luggage, made in China under contract, is sold under brands including Eddie Bauer, Sigma3 and Vector.

China-based Harmony Travelware, a luggage manufacturer, in July claimed it is owed $6.1 million. The receiver argues that Harmony is an unsecured creditor and “it is unlikely unsecured creditors will receive a meaningful distribution.”

Skyway, according to its website, was founded in 1910 by Lithuanian immigrant A. J. Kotkins as Seattle Suitcase Trunk and Bag Manufacturing. Skip Kotkins began a one-year term as volunteer chairman of the chamber at its Sept. 16 annual meeting. He’s a director of building-services company ABM Industries and previously was a director of Cutter & Buck and Rainier Bancorporation, among others.