Now that the final piece in Map Link’s dissolution is complete—the sale of its 50% stake in Benchmark Maps for $240,000 to Map Link founder Bill Hunt—East View Cartographic in Minneapolis has emerged as the winner from the liquidation of what had once been a $12 million company, the largest single-source wholesaler of maps in the United States. EVC purchased the Map Link name and its assets for $150,000 in October and expects to ramp up East View Map Link to full capacity by the middle of next month.
“As a CEO I’ve got a steep learning curve with retail supply,” says Kent Lee, who founded EVC in the mid-1990s, which sells direct to scientific end users. But, he adds, “now that we’re two month is into this. I’m very excited about making it work.” Over the past two months Lee’s staff has contacted 2,500 former Map Link customers. “The reaction,” he says, “is universally positive. They need a reliable single source.” Nor is Lee overly concerned about maps on iPads and iPhones further eroding the print business, especially when it comes to maps for a canoe trip on the Missouri River. “There’s a great opportunity left, and we’re going to do our best,” he says.
Lee estimates that East View Map Link is currently operating at about 15% of where Map Link was a year ago. And the new company continues to add customers like Hastings Entertainment. The company is organized as a separate legal entity from EVC and has a separate staff and warehouse. As part of the push into retail, Lee will have a presence at BEA for the first time in 2011.
As for Map Link’s creditors, even with the two asset sales Rababank, the largest secured creditor, is out more than $1 million. No money will remain for the 20 largest unsecured creditors—which include Rand McNally, which was owed close to $267,000; Hagstrom Map, $154,700; and DeLorme $111,300. When Map Link filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy almost two years ago to the day, it anticipated reorganizing and coming out of it. But the Santa Barbara-based wholesaler was forced to table its plans in August (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/43882-map-link-fighting-for-survival.html) after financial setbacks this spring and summer.