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Investment Firms Agree To Purchase Assets Of Norwalk Furniture

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The investment firm of IRG Capital Group, LLC, an affiliate of Industrial Realty Group, in partnership with Blackbird Capital Partners has signed a letter of intent to purchase the assets of Norwalk Furniture Corp. Meanwhile, the company has fully resumed operations throughout the 106-year-old custom furniture manufacturing and retail business. The prospective new owners request that terms of the sale remain confidential. "IRG Capital Group and Blackbird Capital are a perfect match for this deal because they both believe strongly in the value of growing this company, the strength of its employees and the tradition of Norwalk's product," said Domenic Aversa, acting CEO and architect of the company's restructuring plan. "These investors are committed to building on the great tradition this company has represented for more than a century, and both have a long history of doing business in Ohio and investing in Ohio-based companies." Financial issues triggered by the national housing crisis caused Norwalk to temporarily suspend production on July 21, until the company could procure capital needed to implement a restructuring plan. Nearly 900 workers were temporarily sent home that week until a workable solution became feasible. After days of negotiations with a number of prospective investors a deal was finalized on Aug. 4. This will allow the restructuring plan to be put into action and reposition the company for profitability by the fourth quarter of 2008. Part of the plan includes a $2-million, low-interest state loan facilitated by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who helped facilitate negotiations of the purchase. A matching loan also was provided by Mayor Paul Walker of Fulton, Mississippi, and Greg Deakle, executive director of Itawamba County Development Council in Mississippi. Norwalk's principal bank, Comerica, has agreed to continue funding Norwalk Furniture. "Lt. Gov. Fisher, the Ohio Department of Development, the city of Fulton, Mississippi, and the Mississippi county of Itawamba were all instrumental in making this work for investors, while preserving the company's long-term future, " Aversa said. "The unions and all our employees were very supportive throughout this difficult transition." "We are happy to offer assistance and to help facilitate a public-private partnership that will enable Norwalk Furniture to remain a strong business now and in the future," said Lt. Governor Fisher, who also serves as Director of the Ohio Department of Development. "We are committed to their success." Charles Rowe Jr., president of IRG Capital Group, will assume the interim role of the company's CEO, while a permanent replacement is being sought. Rowe served formerly as CEO of The Sharon Companies, Ltd. in Akron, Ohio and QualServ Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri. IRG Capital Group, based in Akron, Ohio, is a private investment firm affiliated with Industrial Realty Group, which has controlling interests in a variety of operating entities across a broad industry range, including mining, trucking and food services, while actively seeking additional investment opportunities both in distressed businesses and venture capital scenarios. Industrial Realty Group (IRG), with projects in 22 states and affiliate management offices in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Sacramento and Los Angeles, has over 30 years of adaptive reuse and historic preservation experience that, to date, totals over 70 million square feet of facilities, including numerous former corporate and government installations. IRG acquires, preserves, redevelops, cleans, repositions, and retrofits real estate assets for modern-day use by a sophisticated user base. Based in California, IRG is one of the largest full-service redevelopment companies in the United States. Blackbird Capital Partners is a private investment firm affiliated with Blackbird Capital Group in Cincinnati, which provides capital to, and acquires, distressed businesses. Blackbird invests in a wide variety of industries and currently owns controlling stakes in technology and paper converting businesses in Ohio. Norwalk Furniture Corporation, founded in 1902, makes quality upholstered furniture sold under the Norwalk, J. Raymond and Hickory Hill trade names. The company also has a network of retail stores, Norwalk -- The Furniture Idea, which includes company and independently owned franchised furniture stores throughout the United States and Canada. For information, visit the Norwalk Furniture Web site at http:// www.norwalkfurniture.com .

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