Call it another victim of the economic downturn or collateral damage from a battered client's credit crunch one way or another, it's curtains for Center Line Industries Inc. of Winsted, Conn.
The small custom molder, which had four employees for much of its 26-year run, closed its doors in late October.
Owner Robert Trueworthy spent much of the fall cleaning out the 14,600-square-foot factory and planning his retirement.
I'm 65, and I always wondered how I was going to get out from under this molding deal, he joked in a Dec. 8 telephone interview.
He said Center Line's business was hurt by a sudden halt to orders early in 2009 from its main customer, cosmetics packaging company Risdon International Inc. of Waterbury, Conn., which suffered financial uncertainty for much of the year.
Risdon in February furloughed more than 300 North American workers amid a dispute with its lender, Sovereign Bank, which demanded payment of about $8 million in debt.
Risdon whose clients have included Calvin Klein and Estee Lauder and the bank this year sued and countersued each other in Waterbury Superior Court.
In addition to its Waterbury headquarters, Risdon operated plants in Middletown, N.Y.; Laconia, N.H.; Barrie, Ontario; two in Reynosa, Mexico; and two in Suzhou, China.
On July 29, the company filed in Toronto for bankruptcy protection from its Canadian creditors, including about 150 workers at the Barrie plant and about 160 customers, suppliers and tax agencies. Risdon officials did not return e-mail seeking comment, and the phone at the company's main office wasn't answered.
That week before Memorial Day [May 25] weekend, [Risdon] laid off just about everybody [at the headquarters], Trueworthy said.
He said in addition to finding buyers for Center Line's equipment 13 Engel, Shinwa Seiki and Toshiba injection molding machines with clamping forces of 80-330 tons, and literally hundreds of old mold bases he received an order in February from the superior court to maintain three Nissei presses of 80-110 tons belonging to Risdon.
I have to store [the machines] in a clean, dry environment; I can't just push them out the door and leave them outside, he said. I've sold the [Center Line] building, so my lawyer is trying to figure out what to do with them.
Trueworthy received an award from the court of $40,000 in his lawsuit against Risdon over money owed. They just stopped paying [for shipments], he said. I don't expect I'll see a dime of what I was awarded any time soon, either.
Center Line's former plant has been sold to a custom metal- stamping company, with the deal set to close at the end of 2009.
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