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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-30-2010, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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Huffco/Comet out of Business

I found this sad news on

Hoffco/Comet closes doors, putting dozens out of work

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Buzz up!Twitter A manufacturing mainstay in Richmond has closed after 60 years of operations.

Hoffco/Comet CEO John Bratt confirmed Tuesday that the company has closed.

“A year ago, we were profitable and running well,” he said in the empty lobby of the once-booming plant at 358 North West F St.

The business took a devastating hit last October in the midst of the economic downturn.

“Our backlog dropped off 40 percent in a week,” Bratt said. “It had always come back in two to three weeks, but it never has. It’s difficult to lose 40 percent of your business and still survive.”

Hoffco produced lawn and graden equipment, such as tillers, while the Comet brand produced clutches, torque converters and other items for industrial and commercial applications.

Hoffco/Comet had 135 employees about 18 months ago, Bratt said. That total was down by about two-thirds when the closing announcement was made at 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Just a half-dozen cars were parked in front of the building around noon Tuesday.
Terri Shouse, a supervisor scheduler, left after finishing some final tasks.

“It’s very emotional today,” said the 14-year employee. “It’s very hard.”

Bratt said it was difficult to inform employees about the decision. One was celebrating 29 years at Hoffco/Comet. Another had 45 years of experience.

Bratt said the company — which is owned by Tenax Corp. of Indianapolis — has not filed for bankruptcy.

He said four or five people will continue cleaning up and gathering records.

“There are a lot of things we had to do yet,” he said.

Hoffco/Comet sold its building in 2004 and has leased it back ever since.
The closing is an unfortunate sign of tough times, said Richmond mayor Sally Hutton.

“That hurts. We’ve already lost so many,” she said.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-30-2010, 03:53 PM
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Re: Huffco/Comet out of Business

not very good news.... so now with comet being out of business...
what clutches will Redline be using in the future models?......

Last edited by offroadpro4; 01-30-2010 at 05:14 PM.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-30-2010, 07:16 PM
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Re: Huffco/Comet out of Business

Speculation only on this topic, but the tech dude that I deal with at Team had previously tested various clutches for Redline prior to them going with Comet. It would certainly seem like a great move as the Team guy seemed to know his stuff and spent hours with me, while the Comet guy seemed like I was bugging a union worker on his coffee break.....

The mentality of the two companies was night and day for the lowly consumer (me)!! Also, Team Industries is only 30 minutes down the road from Redline in Minnesota.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2010, 06:03 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Huffco/Comet out of Business

I found a little more on the subject @ ......
Certain assests of Hoffco Comet have recently been purchased by Certified Parts Corp. We will be updating this site soon.

Please email Steve at with any questions/comments.

Thank you,
Certified Parts Corporation
1111 W. Racine St.
Janesville, WI 53545-4553

According to an additional report by on Oct. 20, Hoffco/Comet lost its biggest client, John Deere, which represented about half of its business, less than two months before closing, and it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Last edited by Bear Foot; 01-31-2010 at 06:10 AM.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2010, 06:07 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Huffco/Comet out of Business


Brothers David Hoff and Stephen Hoff founded Hoffco in 1949, but the company had its roots in a century-old business owned by their father.

In 1865, Ben Starr and Ezra Nye organized a sheet metal business at 185 Fort Wayne Ave., where they made cups, candle molds, fruit cans and other items. The business passed to W.W. Alexander in 1883, which made cornices, ornamental bay windows and metal fronts. The company then was sold to John Schultz and Isaac Lanning.

Harry J. Hoff began working at the firm in the 1920s and owned it wholly by 1935, when he moved Hoff Sheet Metal Inc. to 411 N. Eighth St. The company did metal fabrication and sold and maintained furnaces and air conditioners. Among its notable creations was a huge cross for St. John Lutheran Church.

In the 1940s, David Hoff and Stephen Hoff had the task of trimming grass and brush from the banks of "Stony Gulch" on the family property along Elkhorn Creek. Steve Hoff sought an easier way to handle the task and had the idea to combine a scythe with an outboard motor engine.

Working through their father's company, the Hoff brothers introduced the portable power Scythette in 1949.

The brothers and their father founded Hoffco to handle the power tool business, first operating at 25 Washington Ave. From the Scythette, they developed attachments such as a brush saw, chain saw, rotary tiller, rotary trimmer and sickle bar cutter. The company also developed a chain saw, which it manufactured until the 1970s.

Here's how the company developed:

1955 -- Hoffco's power tools were used around the world, including at the White House.

1958 -- Hoffco was the second-largest manufacturer of go-karts in the United States, and in 1960, the company began sponsoring a go-kart racing team in England and Italy.

1962 -- The company employed 100 people and the Comet division was making clutches, brakes, axels and wheel assemblies.

1964 -- The Hoffs began patenting blade brake clutches for lawnmowers, long before the 1981 federal mandate requiring the safety feature on all lawnmowers.

1968 -- A long strike at Hoff Sheet Metal led the company to liquidate, but Harry Hoff remained an officer of Hoffco.

1972 -- Texan George Ballas came to the Hoffs seeking assistance with his invention, a monofilament trimmer, better known as the WeedEater. Hoffco designed and built all the power WeedEaters from 1972 to 1978, when the brand was sold to Emerson Electric.

1978 -- Harry Hoff died.

1980s -- Hoffco was operating at 358 N.W. F St., where it built a new addition for its Comet Industries division. The company was manufacturing more than 200 products and held more than 100 patents.

1989 -- Stephen Hoff died.

1990s -- Hoffco and Comet Industries employed about 200 people and was among Wayne County's top 25 employers. It had in excess of $17 million in annual sales in 1990.

1993 -- The Tenax Corporation of Indianapolis bought Hoffco/Comet Industries.

1996 -- David Hoff retired from Hoffco. He died in 2007.

1999 -- The company had 1,000 customers in 40 countries. Production expanded to include building cabs for construction and agricultural equipment and mini-bulldozers used in the forestry industry. The company also made parts and products for John Deere, Murray Corp., Homelite and Snapper.

2003 -- A $2.06 million, 10-year abatement was approved by the Richmond Common Council for new equipment at Hoffco for a new product line, a patented rubberized manhole cover that was tested in Richmond.

2009 -- Tenax owner John Bratt announced the closing of the 60-year-old Hoffco.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2010, 11:22 AM
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Re: Huffco/Comet out of Business

I know the Trophy carts for the kids had a comet clutch. they have now spec'd in a billet aluminum clutch that is what the Jr Dragsters run. It is rated at only 80HP but maybe they make something stronger. I have a meeting for the Lucas Oil Off Road racing on Monday night and will talk to the Trophy cart guys about who makes that clutch and see if they can make something for us.

Thank you Red Rock powersports, Harmon Racing Cells, Blackmore Sign's and T's, Psychoholic Racing, Lucas Oil Products and 777 Race Cars.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-22-2010, 07:16 AM
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Re: Huffco/Comet out of Business

Any updates on Comet?
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-22-2010, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Huffco/Comet out of Business

Originally Posted by hoser View Post
Any updates on Comet?
Yup, they're gone. Team now makes a better setup.
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