Phone distributor seeks Chapter 11, will lay off 131

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Hauppauge-based Personal Communication Devices LLC has filed for bankruptcy and will lay off 131 Long Island employees by October.

The company, a wireless products distributor, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Central Islip and posted a notice of the layoffs with the New York Labor Department last week. It will lay off 78 employees from its corporate offices and 53 workers from a warehouse location, both in Hauppauge.

PCD, which is a privately owned company, reported assets in court documents of between $100 million and $500 million, and $107 million of debt.

A separate holding company -- Personal Communication Devices Holdings LLC, which owns 100 percent of the equity in PCD -- posted assets of between $1 million and $10 million in a separate bankruptcy filing.

As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, PCD has agreed to sell its U.S.-based business assets to Quality One Wireless LLC based in Orlando, Fla. A purchase price was not disclosed, and PCD declined to comment.

In 2012 the company had sales of $1.6 billion but operated at a loss of $16.9 million.

In court filings, PCD said it was hurt by the growing popularity of smartphones -- PCD mainly distributes non-premium devices -- and because it maintained a bloated inventory of older models of phones in an industry that evolved rapidly.

Additionally, the departure of its former chief executive, Philip Christopher, in 2012 resulted in a drawn-out lawsuit over what PCD called Christopher's poaching of employees for a rival company, which exacerbated the company's already strained financial situation, court documents say. Reached for comment, Christopher denied poaching any of PCD's employees: "Once my contract was not renewed, many employees were unhappy and left."

The company decided to explore a sale in February.

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PCD operated as a subsidiary of Audiovox Corp. (now known as Voxx International) from 1984 to 2004, when it was sold to UTStarcom, Inc. In 2008, it was spun off into a separate company by an investment firm.

PCD also maintains offices in California and Ontario, Canada, and has 189 employees, according to the court documents. The company said in a news release that its Canadian operations were not affected by the bankruptcy filing.

With Tom Incantalupo

CLARIFICATION: Personal Communication Devices LLC is no longer owned by Voxx International. A previous version of this story was unclear about the ownership.

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