The State of New Jersey will auction off the former business site on Route 206 next week in an effort to recoup some of the estimated $289,000 in back taxes owed by the shuttered business.
The troubles facing the business also include at least two suppliers who say they were not paid for merchandise.
Bill Quinn, a spokesman for the state Department of Treasury, which oversees the Division of Taxation, said the auction is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the business location at 135 Route 206. He said the auction will be held unless the state is able to make arrangement for payment with Ronald Ash, who is listed as the owner of the business.
The taxation division posted a “Notice of Seizure” on the Hillsborough property on Aug. 22.
The tax delinquencies go back to 2008, Quinn said, and include both sales tax that was collected but not paid to the state, and corporate business taxes. He said the taxation division filed certificates of debt–tax liens–against Ash personally and businesses he owned, including Ash's Flower Farms, Inc. and Ash's Flower Farm of Hillsborough.
Ash's Flower Farms listed businesses in Hillsborough, Pennington, Columbia and New Hope, Pa., on Facebook and gardening center websites.
Calls to each of those businesses, and to other phones listed as associated with Ash, were disconnected.
Manta.com, a business listing website that collects public information on businesses, said Ash's Flower Farm was founded in 2009 and had estimated annual sales of $1.5 to $2 million.
Ash’s relationship to the Route 206 property is somewhat unclear.
Hillsborough tax records show the owner of record as West Essex Industrial Park, which according to a 2008 Appeals Court ruling, also does business as Suburban Corp. and 731 Corp. The property is current on its local property taxes, the tax collectors office said.
Two out-of-state wholesalers say they are owed money by Ash Flower Farms.
The Perennial Farms of Glen Arm, Md., is owed $14,239, said attorney Harris Chernow of Horsham, Pa., who represented the Maryland business in court.
He said the judgment is still open.
Perennial filed the suit in 2010, and the verdict was posted in January 2011.
Russ Stokes of Mundelein, Ill., operates a landscape supply farm that provides tree, shrubs, and other gardening material to retailers.
He said they shipped $17,000 of material this summer to Ash's Flower Farm in Hillsborough. When he had not been paid, Stokes posted a complaint on Garden.com, an industry website that compiles names and reviews of garden and landscaping businesses.
On Friday, Stokes said that his was a new company and as a way to advertise, he turned to the Internet and Constant Comment, an email marketing firm.
Ash responded, and “seemed like a nice guy,” Stokes said.
Next thing he knew, Stokes said, Ash sent a purchase order for a “whole lot of stuff.”
Since Ash seemed legitimate, Stokes filled the order thinking that, since it seemed that Ash had several locations, the business relationship could be quite profitable, he said.
“It seemed like a terrific opportunity to be able to work with a company that size,” Stokes said.
Ash paid the freight costs when the goods were delivered, as is the industry practice, Stokes said, and the delivery driver indicated the place seemed to be well run.
But he never paid for the materials, Stoke said.
Instead, “I got stuck with it,” he said.
He sent out a series of payment-due notices, including by certified mail, and even reviewed the case with the attorneys of his parent company in Chicago, but they said that given the amount of the sale and the distance between Illinois and New Jersey, it was best to write off the debt.
“Basically, they said, ‘you’re screwed,’ " he said. “Lesson learned.”