Henrico County-based Acorn Sign Graphics Inc., makers of custom architectural signs that has landed twice on the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest growing private companies, has ceased operations.
The company shut down after filing for Chapter 7 liquidation in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond on Wednesday.
Acorn Sign Graphics, founded in the 1970s, has been co-owned by husband and wife Beth and Steve Gillispie since 2003.
The company listed between $500,000 and $1 million in assets and $1 million and $10 million in liabilities, court documents show.
It had between 200 and 999 creditors. The filing didn’t list the company’s largest unsecured creditors, but many of the creditors are from the Richmond region.
Acorn Sign Graphics said in a statement that it was recovering from business impacts from the pandemic and supply chain difficulties.
But the company said it “was unable to prevail in a contract payments dispute with its largest customer, LL Flooring. The resulting liquidity crisis forced closure of the company.”
The company said expects to pursue its claim in bankruptcy court against LL Flooring, the Henrico-based flooring giant that previously was called Lumber Liquidators. Acorn Sign Graphics didn’t provide any details about the payment dispute including the amount.
Beth Gillispie, who is listed as the company’s president and CEO, could not be reached for comment.
“We are deeply saddened by the hardship in this situation for our stakeholders, 43 employees, vendors and customers,” the company statement said. “The legacy we hope remains echoes our vision: to have enhanced the human experience in the built environment and provided a place where our employees would flourish.”
Acorn Sign Graphics was known for its high-quality design, fabrication and installation services. It has made tens of thousands of signs for offices, retail stores, hospitals and schools in Virginia and elsewhere.
The company also was a benefit corporation, or B Corporations, dedicated to social and environmental responsibility.
That meant its mission was to do sign making process in an environmentally friendly way. At Acorn’s main office and production facility on West Clay Street near Dabney Road, the company had invested several years ago in equipment designed to assemble and paint signs with less waste and fewer toxic chemicals. It also used recycled or green-friendly materials in its signs.
In 2015, the company was recognized in the “Best for the Environment” category in the Best for the World awards program by B Lab, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that certifies companies as B Corps and advocates for that business model.
Acorn Sign Graphics also made it twice on the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing private businesses based on the companies’ three-year revenue growth rates.
In 2017, the company was ranked No. 4,756 with a 47% three-year growth rate generating $6 million in annual sales. In 2015, it had a 66% growth rate with $5.9 million in sales landing it at No. 4,193.
The company is represented in its bankruptcy case by the Richmond law firm of Spiro & Browne PLC.