Faced with nearly $180 million in debt, Amtrol, Warwick, RI, filed for Chapter 11 protection last December.

The company expects to continue operating normally during the debt reorganization process - all manufacturing and distribution facilities will remain open, customers will continue to be served as usual, and all suppliers and employees will continue to be paid without interruption, according to the bankruptcy announcement.

Amtrol reported annual sales of $218.5 million for 2005 and employed more than 1,200 in North America and Europe. The company’s foreign operations are not involved in the filing. About 400 people work in the company’s Rhode Island operations.

The Cypress Group LLC, a private-equity investment firm, has owned Amtrol since 1996. Whether Cypress will lose control of its ownership remains to be seen.

Chester H. Kirk invented the bladder-type pressure storage tank for home water well and heating systems and founded Amtrol in 1946.

by Steve Smith