Saturday, March 13, 2010

FireFly & G&D Integrated

On 5/28/07, Jennifer Davis and Molly Parker wrote "Finding a FireFly Fix Over Breakfast" in their 'Word on the Street' Column in the JS. Quoting the column, " braving buckets of snow, former Mayor Dick Carver, current Mayor Jim Ardis, state Representative Dave Leitch and a Peoria businessman showed up for breakfast at Le Peep. Over toast these men toasted a commitment to finding a solution that would keep FireFly Energy in Peoria." Firefly was cramped in the state owned ICC North free space they were occupying and needed to expand.

To shorten this story; you can find the whole column on the net, the businessman was Joe O'Neill, president of G&D Integrated, a Peoria business that helps companies with their manufacturing, assembly and transportation needs. (Think Caterpillar) O'Neill said he had met FireFly CEO, Ed Williams some years ago.

Out of this meeting, a plan was hatched that allegedly resulted in O'Neill buying the old Foster Gallagher building, remodeling it and leasing it to FireFly. Leitch was quoted as "I heard the story that Carver was extremely concerned that FireFly was going to leave the community, and came away with the idea we needed to put on a full court press to make FireFly happy so they stay in the community."

Since Dave Leitch was a Vice-President of National City Bank it is alleged that the bank approved a loan to FireFly if totally backed by the City/County elected officials and O'Neill would go ahead with his commitment.

Then City Councilman Bob Manning was like me asking questions even though he knew "the chute seemed slick for this deal long before it was brought to the council." The vote sailed through 10-0. Sandberg was absent.

If you read C. J. Summer's blog, "The Peoria Chronicle", you can find some of the 'no fail' quotes from community leaders that FireFly was going to be the most successful innovation to come out of Peoria since the distilleries and breweries came to Peoria. Pabst was the last to leave but I believe there still is empty space in that building.

It's getting late and I'm tired but I'll pick up on the FireFly theme tomorrow. It's failure had to be a shock to those who believe anything coming from Caterpillar must be a success. Not being venture capitalists who use PRIVATE FUNDING they did not understand that 9 out of 10 FireFly types either fail or are not profitable but that one that succeeds make hundreds of founders and investors millionaires.

But they are not making that gamble, as a rule, with taxpayer dollars.


Anonymous said...


You gave us the city council vote (10-0, one absent). What was the county board vote on the same issue (the backing of the loan, not the gap loan). How did you vote?

Merle Widmer said...

Like Bob Manning I asked questions because I was wary of the new ground we were breaking.

See my blog that will appear tonight titled "FireFly closer to burning bright"