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Diamond President Cogswell Sounds Optimistic in Light of Chapter 11 Filing

Despite today's announcement that Diamond Glass filed this morning for voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization, company president Bill Cogswell sounds optimistic.

"We're doing well—-we're healthy, and it's our desire to continue to move forward and look forward and continue to invest in what will make the company healthy," he told glassBYTEs.comô/AGRR magazine in an exclusive interview this afternoon.

However, he doesn't shy away from speaking about what led to the restructuring.

"Our situation is clearly a result of the bonds that we owe from 1998 and the debt that we owe to a creditor facility from about a year ago," he says.

Cogswell declined to comment on what led to the debt—particularly as to whether market conditions are a factor.

"I don't know that what we face today [with the current economy] has anything to do with whether you can make money in the industry today," he says. "Our situation today is that we have a lot of debt and we can't pay it. There [have] been a lot of industry changes over the years—pressures from pricing, for example—-that have been on everybody's minds. But again, at the end of the day, we can't pay the debt."

Cogswell notes that the company explored many options in recent months, but this one seemed optimal. "We considered all of the options available and this seemed to be the best course of action," he says. "There's always hope that you're going to be able to work through a process with those you owe money to. We started reaching out to bondholders and creditors a few months ago and tried to engage in dialogue."

One of its creditors, Guggenheim Corporate Funding LLC, responded.

"We have an actual purchase agreement in place with Guggenheim," Cogswell says. "We're entering this [restructuring] with a deal, so to speak."

Cogswell says that, depending on what the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Delaware decides, an auction to sell the company could held within 90-120 days. Currently, Guggenheim is first in line to buy the company—but others have the opportunity to outbid the creditor's current proposal.

As for current Diamond vendors, Cogswell says it's up to the court to decide by what method these will be paid.

"That's a process that's really governed by the courts," he says. "I can't tell you with certainty what that process will be."

Cogswell says he spent yesterday evening on conference calls with district and regional managers, and then distributed information on the restructuring to employees this morning. From 8:30 a.m. on, the company held three different, back-to-back town hall-type meetings at its corporate headquarters in Kingston, Pa.

This afternoon, another conference call with district managers and regional managers followed.

"[We] responded to any questions they'd had come up within the last few hours," Cogswell says.

Company officials also distributed a list of frequently asked questions to employees to allay their concerns.

"At the end of the day, [most employees] are concerned as to whether they're paychecks are going to be cashed," he says.

He adds, though, that this shouldn't be a concern—as long the court accepts the company's initial motion for restructuring, which is expected. That decision will be made by the court on April 2.

In the coming days, though, Diamond management expects even more questions to be generated among employees.

"They might now have all their questions to day," Cogswell says. "It's important that we continue to reach out and make sure we're available to answer them. We think we've done a pretty good job of attempting to proactively communicate."

When asked about the timing of the filing—on April Fool's Day—Cogswell laughed.

"Today is the day the bonds were due. Today is the day we had to file," he said.

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