Uh-oh. It looks like Dura Automotive Systems is sliding into deep stuff.
When the Wall Street restructuring firm Miller Buckfire shows up, it usually means management fears that creditors are lurking in the weeds or back by the tree line, waiting to force the company to pay for everything in cash.
Of course, just because you hire a reorganization specialist as an adviser doesn't mean the company automatically ends up in bankruptcy court. Just like going to a marriage counselor doesn't mean you automatically end up in divorce court.
Still, a marriage counselor once admitted to me that his percentage of saved marriages was pretty low because most couples in counseling wait until it's too late.
So maybe for Dura CEO Larry Denton to bring in Miller Buckfire is like Heisman-winner Pete Dawkins calling for a napalm strike on his own position because he and his unit were about to be overrun by Viet Cong.
That was 40 years ago, when Dawkins was a young Army captain. It was a bold move by the one-time quarterback who graduated 10th in his 1959 class at West Point and was a Rhodes Scholar before landing in Vietnam. That battle gave Dawkins a rep, and he eventually retired as a brigadier general.
Not that hiring a Wall Street consulting firm to look at your books requires the same kind of heroics as combat. Denton's a good guy -- and a former welder -- but it's hard to imagine him in hand-to-hand combat in a jungle or a desert.
Even so, deciding whether or not to plunge into Chapter 11 can require courage.
I have this vivid memory of seeing Denton dressed in a Superman costume, heading for a Halloween party in Las Vegas during SEMA last year.
It wasn't a pretty picture. (Sorry, Larry.)
But who knows? Maybe he'll turn out to be a superhero after all.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]