It doesn't pay to put all your eggs in one basket, as Bill Wilson found out the hard way. In April he bought Advanced Design Plastics Inc., a small custom injection molding company in Denver. Last month he closed the doors on the leased building, and the equipment goes on the auction block Jan. 19.
Wilson and his son, Scott, bought the company with high hopes. Prospects looked bright, especially after they landed a large two-year contract with Defense Technology Corp. of America, a Casper, Wyo., manufacturer of pepper spray defense products. Advanced Design bought three new Mitsubishi molding presses to do the work in addition to the four they had.
``We really got into bed with this company,'' said Wilson in a telephone interview. ``We made the molds and began knocking out parts.''
Just before Thanksgiving, Wilson received a letter from Defense Technology, saying his company's services were no longer needed and that the contract was canceled.
Wilson attempted to restore the business but no one at Defense Technology's plant responded. In December Wilson had to shut the plant down and lay off 20 workers for lack of cash flow. He realizes that one of his mistakes was getting in too deep with one customer.
``We were trying to diversify our business but that takes time, and I didn't have the time,'' Wilson said.
``I guess you could say we got caught with our pants down by having too much faith in one large company.''
Wilson filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Defense Technology, which has now countersued with a breach-of-contract suit as well, according to Steve Peters, attorney for Ad-vanced Design. Neither company yet has filed an answer to the other's suit and no date has been set for a hearing. An official at Defense Technology said the firm could not comment because the case is in litigation.
Wilson said he holds all 13 molds that belong to Defense Technology.
``We're really saddened by the fact that we had to close just when we were so close to getting some more really good business,'' he said. ``This came as a real shock to us.''
Wilson has a manufacturing engineering background but for the past several years dealt in real estate while keeping his eyes open for a good opportunity in manufacturing.
``I thought this was that opportunity,'' he said.
His seven months in the custom molding business made Wilson poorer but wiser, and he offered advice to other molders: ``If they put one thing to memory it's read between the lines and be sure you're covered.''