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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Deceased Charlotte-area equipment distributor leaves millions in debt

Garth McGillewie

Union County businessman Garth McGillewie Jr. made a living as a distributor of sophisticated industrial equipment through his businesses Applied Machinery Rentals, Stateline Rentals  and G and W Holding.

He lived in a $3 million home at the Longview Country Club in suburban Charlotte and owned beach homes, boats and luxury cars.

On June 21, he “died by suicide” at age 61, according to court filings. It happened a week after Woodforest National Bank obtained a court order that put a receiver in charge of his Applied Machinery business. The Woodlands, Texas-based Woodforest, which is known for its branches in Walmart stores, has a $20 million claim against McGillewie’s estate, according to a filing in Union County Superior Court in Monroe.

Other banks have filed similar claims, including Chicago BMO Harris ($4 million), St. Cloud, Minnesota-based Stearns Bank ($3.8 million), Beverly, Massachusetts-based NFS Leasing ($3 million) and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina-based Coastal States Bank ($650,000).

All told, debts owed by McGillewie’s enterprises with more than $100 million in claims are likely, according to a person familiar with the case.

A civil complaint filed in early July by Stearns against McGillewie’s wife, Wendy, the executor of his estate, seeks repayment of more than $3.8 million. The complaint alleges a “fraudulent scheme” that is described as “simple and effective. McGillewie obtained loans to finance the purchase of Merlo telehandlers, a sophisticated Italian hydraulic machine that is a combination tractor, forklift and crane boom.”

The businessman then sold the telehandlers “out of trust” to third parties without the bank’s knowledge or without remitting the processes, the filing notes. He then used the money “to fund a lavish lifestyle of beach homes, a fleet of expensive marine vehicles, a private airplane and other luxuries for himself and his family,” it adds.

When Stearns Bank and other creditors learned of the scheme, McGillewie assigned, disposed of or secreted assets to defraud the bank, the filing notes.

Requests for comment from John Woodman, a Charlotte lawyer representing Wendy McGillewie, were not returned.

McGillewie moved to the U.S. from his native South Africa in 1979. In 1983, he and his father set up a Rock Hill, South Carolina company, Hydra Platforms, to build platforms used to inspect and repair bridges, according to a Rock Hill Herald story in 2014. Westport, Conn.-based Terex, a multinational with more than $9 billion in revenue, bought Hydra for an undisclosed amount in 2014.

The junior McGillewie later started a company that distributed telehandlers across the nation, according to his obituary.

Three companies controlled by McGillewie — G and W Holding, G and W Industrial Properties, and Applied Machinery Rentals — filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in federal bankruptcy court in Charlotte this summer. Total assets and debts haven’t been determined.

An Aug. 15 filing cited one asset: a 64-foot Weaver Custom Convertible Sport Fishing Yacht, valued at $5 million. The filing noted that a 2015 Viking Yacht had been sold earlier this year for $3 million.

A personal financial statement by McGillewie, dated March 31 and included in the Union County court filing, shows total assets of $19.5 million, all of it either real estate or personal property, except for about $58,000 in cash. Liabilities totaled $5.9 million, all related to real estate mortgages, according to the statement. A bankruptcy court filing notes McGilliwie owned two properties at Ocean Isle Beach and one in Wilmington.

“He was very well known in the industry,” says Lindsay Anderson, a journalist with Access Life & Handlers, a trade publication. “The rotating telehandler market is growing, and my understanding is that he had numerous machines to deliver.”

McGillewie is survived by his wife, parents, two sisters, four children and a grandchild, according to the obituary.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at dmildenberg@businessnc.com.

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