Posted at 12:43 p.m., Friday, June 15, 2007
Veg-O-Matic maker Ronco files for bankruptcy
Bloomberg News ServiceRonco Corp., maker of the Veg-O-Matic vegetable slicer and the Pocket Fisherman, filed for bankruptcy two years after founder and television pitchman Ron Popeil sold the iconic company for $56 million.
Ronco, which marketed products as perfect for "grads and dads," sought protection from creditors owed more than $32.7 million. It listed $13.9 million in assets yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Woodland Hills, Calif.
A sale of Ronco "in the coming weeks is the best and most viable mechanism for preserving" the company's value, Chief Executive Officer John Reiland said in the bankruptcy filing.
Reiland said Ronco will be sold through a court-supervised auction and already has a potential, unnamed buyer.
Popeil, 72, started the Chatsworth, Calif.-based company around 1958 and became a household name by hawking products in late-night television ads. He was known for infomercials selling his products and got his start pitching his father's Veg-O-Matic manual food processor with the phrase "It slices! It dices!"
Ronco was sold by Popeil to a holding company, Fi-Tek VII, in June 2005 for $40 million in cash and a $16 million note, according to court papers. The buyer kept the Ronco name and the right to purchase products Popeil invents before they're offered elsewhere. He continues to work for Ronco as a consultant and spokesman.