PLAINVILLE — One of the companies formally owned by Plainville businessman Chuck Comeau has re-opened under new ownership.
Chris and Kelli Hansen, longtime employees of Comeau’s Dessin Fournir Companies, purchased Palmer Hargrave Lighting, the Hansens announced in a news release Wednesday. The luxury lighting manufacturer had been part of Comeau’s companies he brought to his hometown.
Dessin Fournir filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, following foreclosure actions by Sunflower Bank that affected seven properties in Plainville, as well as several in Hays.
“We’re just now starting to get operations back up and running by doing inventory and setting up accounting systems and stuff like that,” Kelli Hansen told The Hays Daily News in a phone interview Wednesday.
Roger Hrabe, director of Rooks County Economic Development, said the opening is welcome news for Plainville, and said more could be expected.
“Ideally, we would have liked to have seen the whole Dessin Fournir Companies come back, but what’s happened is parts of it are coming back,” he said.
Another DFC company, Classic Cloth, has also re-opened, he said.
“Parts of it are still viable, and that’s what they’re trying to do is resurrect the parts of it that are still viable and workable and then go from there,” Hrabe said.
“The buildings were all in excellent condition, so we have a real interest in them staying that way, being occupied, having a viable business in them. That’s good for downtown,” he said.
The Hansens grew up in Plainville and moved back in 2000 after receiving degrees from Washburn University and the birth of their first son, according to the release.
After the DFC companies closed, they knew they wanted to stay in Plainville to raise their family, and began to pursue acquiring the business, the release said.
They worked with Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center, a Norton-based foundation that provides economic and entrepreneurial assistance in 26 northwest Kansas counties.
“We are excited about the opportunities for Palmer Hargrave while re-establishing this national brand in Plainville. Local business leaders like Chris and Kelli Hansen have invested in Rooks County and demonstrated their commitment and leadership to make this new venture a success,” NWKEICI President and CEO Scott Sproul said in the release.
The couple has hired back two other former employees, production manager Don Wessel and craftsman Justin Klein. Hansen said the factory usually employed about five production staff before closing earlier this year.
She said they expect to “go full steam” after the first of the year. She and her husband will run the front office, with Wessel and Klein handling production.
They plan to take some time to bring the company back to its former production level.
“We’re going to take it slow and get reintroduced back in the marketplace,” she said.
While formal announcements haven’t been made to former clients of the lighting company, Hansen said reception has been good so far.
“We’ve had a lot of encouragement prior to us doing the acquisition. From what we’ve heard in the industry, it’s definitely been missed and they’re excited that it’s coming back,” she said.
The company is located in its original location on Mill Street in Plainville.
The company was started in 1946 by Palmer “Jack” Hargrave in Oxnard, Calif., and purchased by Comeau’s Dessin Fournir in 2000. Comeau then relocated the factory to his hometown.
The Hansens have been involved in Plainville’s leadership and economic development for years. Kelli Hansen spent 14 years in city government, including eight years as Plainville’s mayor, and worked with Liberty Group, which Comeau formed to acquire and develop properties in downtown Hays. She serves on the boards of the Heartland Community Foundation and Rooks County Economic Development and E-Community. Chris was elected to the Plainville USD 270 school board in 2018.