Offset printing presses and other equipment used at the now-closed Colortree Group Inc.’s plant will be auctioned off this month.

The Sept. 17 auction is the first major disposal of assets of the Henrico County-based printing company since Colortree abruptly shut down in June, laying off all 240 employees.

Colortree had operated for more than 30 years printing direct-mail envelopes, flyers, brochures and other products.

PPL Group LLC, which handles liquidation and auctions of industrial plants and equipment, and North East Printing Machinery Inc., which trades used graphic arts equipment, are handling the on-site and online auction that begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 17.

The equipment and other assets will be available for inspection at Colortree’s plant at 8000 Villa Park Drive, off East Parham Road near Brook Road, the day before the auction.

PPL Group is conducting the sale for Sterling National Bank. The New York-based bank provided financing in late 2016 to James “Pat” Patterson, president and CEO of Colortree Group, when his management group acquired Boathouse Capital’s 72% stake in the company that he didn’t own.

Patterson and Boathouse Capital had acquired Colortree and Graphics Innovations, a specialty printer of direct-mail products, in 2011.

Several former Colortree employees said they were told when the company laid them off in June that the business was shutting down because it had defaulted on bank loans and the bank was no longer extending credit to keep operations going.

Patterson could not be reached for comment.

The auction of printing presses and other equipment is a significant development in the printing industry, said Sam Bersh, PPL Group’s auction marketing manager.

“There has been a lot of interest in the auction. We have been getting a lot of phone calls,” Bersh said. “This was not only a major company but a lot of people knew that name.”

All of Colortree’s machines, presses and equipment will be auctioned off, he said.

“Some of it is specific to the envelope printing business and some of it could be applied to any printing,” Bersh said.

The equipment and presses are “some high-dollar items,” he said. “Some of the web-fed offset presses are big ticket items that could sell for a fair amount of money.”

For instance, a Heidelberg sheet-fed offset printing press, which was new in 2006, could fetch a couple of hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

The auction will include Colortree’s envelope converters and printers, its bindery and finishing machines, its pre-press equipment as well as other plant equipment.

It’s not known how much Colortree Group owes Sterling National Bank. Colortree, founded in 1988, was a private company so its financial results are not available.

Colortree reported sales of $57 million in 2018, a 4% increase from the previous year of $55 million, according to the trade publication Printing Impressions. Colortree Group was ranked No. 97 in Printing Impressions’ ranking of the top 400 printing companies in the U.S. and Canada.

Colortree leased its 128,786-square-foot office and plant, built in 1989, from the Stewart Cos. of York, Pa., which bought the property in 2016 for $11 million.

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