The Keene Corporation originally produced heat-sealed plastic packaging. Purchased by Glenn W. Bailey in 1967, it was incorporated in Delaware, then in New York in 1979. Bailey bought several other companies and expanded the product line to include fireproofing, other industrial and insulation materials.
Many of the products contained asbestos and by 1971 there were thousands of lawsuits and by 1972 the company discontinued the use of asbestos. Bailey created a holding company named Bairnco to protect his other businesses and to sort out the asbestos claims.
In 1990 there were still 9000 outstanding claims. Bailey retired and Luke E. Fichthorn III took his place. Attempting to deal with the multi-million-dollar asbestos liabilities, Fichthorn spun off the Keene Corporation. This only precipitated accusations of unethical behavior and lawsuits against Bairnco.
In 1993 Keene filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and began a company reorganization. In 1996 the Keene Creditors Trust was created to address the company’s asbestos liabilities.