BARRE — The Barre branch of an environmental services firm has closed, all of its employees have been laid off, and its assets are in the process of being liquidated.
It is a small part of a much larger story involving a company — Accuworx — that has expanded significantly since it opened in Barre five years ago.
Attempts to reach the Accuworx office on Metro Way were unsuccessful Thursday and the woman who answered the phone at its office in New Hampshire referred all comment to Bill Brandt. Brandt’s Chicago-based firm, Development Specialists Inc. (DSI), specializes in corporate restructuring and insolvency matters.
Contacted by phone on Thursday, Brandt said he was unable to talk, but would try to respond to questions about Accuworx by email later in the day. That correspondence was not available at press time.
Thomas Lauzon, who leased 8,500 square feet of his Metro Way complex to Accuworx in 2013, confirmed Thursday the company had closed and representatives from DSI were “on site” in response to an “assignment of the benefit of creditors” that will lead to the liquidation of the company’s assets.
Lauzon said that includes both of its New England locations, as well as others, including Texas, Nevada and most recently California.
“Their expansion was very rapid,” he said.
It was and it wasn’t.
The company actually got its start in Ontario in 1989, and first expanded into the United States when it opened a location in Barre five years ago. The last year has been particularly active for Accuworx. The company acquired a Texas firm last December, sold its Canadian operations in February and in October announced a new regional operation headquartered in California.
“It’s a lot more complicated than just Vermont and New Hampshire,” Lauzon said, predicting: “They’re going to be a long time unraveling what’s going on Texas and out west.”
Lauzon said he didn’t know what precipitated what he described as a “company-wide” liquidation of assets that led to up to a dozen local lay-offs heading into the holidays.
“All I know is the timing is really unfortunate,” he said.
Lauzon said Accuworx employees in Barre learned they were out of work at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and were told to bring their uniforms, equipment and cell phones to work first thing Wednesday morning.
The broad range of services provided by Accuworx included industrial cleaning, emergency response, soil and groundwater remediation and liquid waste management.
Lauzon said he had already been contacted by a group interested in filling the void created by the abrupt closing of the Accuworx offices in Barre and New Hampshire.
“My hope is that there will be an environmental remediation company in Barre employing people within six months,” he said. “Judging by folks I have spoken to I’d say there’s a fairly high possibility of that.”
Jeff Simone, who launched Accuworx in Barre with the company’s founder, Jason Rosset, said Thursday he was terminated in May and stunned when Lauzon contacted him to assist with the handling of hazardous material the company had left behind.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be in this building again,” said Simone, who reached a settlement with Rosset in October for his share of the local company.
Simone said he wasn’t part of the group that had reached out to Lauzon, but was open to participating in the new business venture in the future.
“I actually tried to buy it (the local business) before I was let go,” he said.
Simone said he has spoken to Accuworx employees in other parts of the country since Tuesday afternoon’s announcement and all received notices similar to those emailed to workers in Barre and New Hampshire.
“Everyone was terminated,” he said, noting the company has stopped operating and DSI had started the process of liquidating its assets to pay creditors.
Lauzon said he expected that process to take about 90 days and he has offered to continue renting the space formerly occupied by Accuworx to DSI for as long as it needs.