Mark Group in liquidation auction

Mark Group, the U.K.-based home insulation company whose U.S. arm, run by ex-Toll Bros. lawyer Jeff Bartos, was offered $3.28 million in Pennsylvania taxpayer aid by then-Gov. Ed Rendell to open facilities at the Navy Yard in South Philly in late 2010, is the subject of a liquidation sale scheduled for Jan. 27, 11 a.m., at the company's offices, 4050 S. 26th St. 

A list of "thousands of items" -- generators, tools, computers, Rheems heaters, Johns-Manville insulation -- is posted in this notice by AuctionAdvisors.com, which is managing the "Liquidation of the Mark Group" sale. The ad says the "Entire Contents of 7 Warehouses & Offices" are to be sold, and that "much of the inventory is new in the box." The sale was also advertised in Sunday's Inquirer.

Bartos didn't return messages left at his Navy Yard office or Main Line home on Monday or Tuesday. Staff at AuctionAdvisors referred inquiries back to the posted sale information.

Starting in 2010 and as recently as last summer, when the auditing firm Ernst & Young named Bartos an "Entrepreneur of the Year," Bartos has said that Mark Group hoped to employ hundreds of salespeople and installers in the Philadelphia area.

The company's U.K. headquarters laid off 670 of its 2,500 workers in September, blaming a reduction in British home insulation subsidies. See story in the Leicester Mercury here.

"It's unfortunate," said Mark Wasic, of Clinton, N.J., who said he worked at Mark from January 2011 until last August, when he left and joined another company. He said business had been slow and some former coworkers have since left the company, collecting a week's severance payh. Wasic says he filed a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor for unpaid commissions Mark owes him, totalling $3,500. 

Barry O'Sullivan of Philadelphia Gas Works said Mark Group had contracted to insulate customers' homes in the past, but no current agreements are in force. A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development had no immediate detail on the disposition of the promised grants to Mark; I'll update as I hear more. 

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