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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

American Photocopy Equipment Company - Lehman Brothers Collection

American Photocopy Equipment Company

List of Deals

The American Photocopy Equipment Company (Apeco), which manufactured and marketed photocopy machines, was incorporated in 1954 after acquiring the name and assets of a limited partnership that had been in existence since 1939.

Beginning in 1952, sales grew quickly for Apeco after the company adapted for its use the transfer-diffusion process of producing photocopies. In 1952 Apeco earned $205,000 from sales of $2.5 million. Net income was $4.3 million on sales of $29.8 million by 1960. During this period, Apeco earned the reputation as a glamour stock as the office-copier industry took off.

This good fortune was not to last for Apeco, however, for after earnings reached a high in 1961, operating results declined almost uninterruptedly in the following five fiscal years. In 1963 alone, net income fell 41 percent from the previous year to $2.6 million. The photocopy industry was changing with new technology and increased competition from photocopy firms such as Xerox, SCM Corporation, and Adressograph-Multigraph. Apeco found its expenditures for production, marketing, and distribution rising significantly. Earnings for Apeco reached a low in 1966 when a $2 million deficit was reported.

The fortunes of Apeco began to improve in 1968 due to a heavier demand for copying paper and the company's line of office copiers. For fiscal year 1967, sales were $35,618,700 and earnings were $1,182,200—the best year since 1964. Apeco resumed paying a dividend in 1968 for the first time in three years. Apeco also continued to introduce new products. In 1968 it began offering the Super-Stat Ultra, which made ten copies per minute.

In 1968 Apeco began diversifying through acquisitions that eventually transformed the company into a conglomerate. Apeco entered the marine products industry in 1968 by buying Magnum Marine Corp. of Miami, Florida, and then later in the same year adding Bosworth Marine Corp., a St. Petersburg houseboat manufacturer. These marine division sales accounted for about $10 million by the end of 1968. In 1969 it purchased Iola Molded Plastics, a maker of popular-priced boats and Newport Homes, a maker of mobile homes, for $7.5 million. In 1970 it purchased Cavalier Industries, a maker of travel trailers and truck campers.

By 1970 Apeco had record earnings of $5.2 million on sales of $89 million and the photocopy business still accounted for about 70 percent of sales revenue. American Photocopy Equipment Company was renamed Apeco Corp. in 1971.

Apeco once again began to experience financial difficulties during the 1970s. The company had taken on too much debt from its many acquisitions. In 1977 Apeco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Apeco was discharged from Chapter 11 in 1980 after issuing an additional 12.5 million common shares in exchange for debt. In 1979 it sold its Craftmade Homes Division (maker of mobile homes) for an undisclosed sum to Hairgrove Industries. It sold its European subsidiaries in 1981 at a $5 million loss because of operating losses.

Artra Corporation, a holding company in the jewelry and scientific industries, took a 37 percent interest in Apeco in 1984 and in 1985 Apeco Corporation was renamed Lori Corporation. In 1985 Lori Corporation took a new direction and acquired R.N. Koch, Inc., a major manufacturer of costume jewelry. The following year, it spent nearly $43 million to purchase three more closely held costume jewelry companies. These purchases put Lori at the forefront of the costumer jewelry industry and as a provider of merchandise to K Mart Corporation and Wal-Mart Stores. In the meantime, Lori severed all ties to the past. It sold off the photocopier and other businesses and in 1987 the last subsidiary remaining from the old Apeco Corporation, Chateau Recreational Vehicles, was sold off for less than $1 million.

In 1995 the company name was changed to Comforce Corporation after it acquired Spectrum Global Services, a firm that provided telecommunications and computer technical staffing services. Comforce is a very different company in 2002 from American Photocopy Equipment. It supplies workers to other companies for long-term assignments, including management, engineering, design, and technical support.

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