Aluminum Chambered Boats halts operations

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Aluminum Chambered Boats announced this week that it is ceasing operations.

Interim president Tom Latham said the recession, mounting debt and the company's inability to make a profit contributed to the closing. Bellingham, Wash.-based Aluminum Chambered Boats attempted to secure a strategic investment partner to restructure the company, but has not been successful to date, The Bellingham Herald newspaper reported.

"It is very sad to see such a skilled work force [idled]," Bill Geyer, chairman of the board at Aluminum Chambered Boats, told the newspaper. "This work force put together a superior product, and over the years it knocked heads with some very big companies to land contracts. We were hoping it would be a successful company, but it was not making a profit."

The company and its stockholders will evaluate what to do next, including aggressively continuing a search for additional capital. They should have a clearer picture about whether the company can be saved in the next two weeks, Latham said.

About 35 employees were affected by this week's announcement. At its peak, the company employed 110.

Founded in 1998 by Larry Wieber, Aluminum Chambered Boats grew after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when it became qualified to sell boats to a military intent on beefing up waterfront security. One of the company's biggest deals came six years ago when it landed an $18 million contract to supply 66 boats to the Marine Corps.

Aluminum Chambered Boats struggled this year, reducing its work force and making leadership changes. It appeared that the company was getting back on track in May when it was announced that it won a contract with the Coast Guard to build as many as 80 boats, adding $37.7 million in revenue.

However, Latham said the contract had problems that involved the way it was negotiated and did not offer the financial benefits the company was expecting.

Aluminum Chambered Boats also has a significant contract with the Army to build boats, but it was still in the prototype testing stage, Latham said, and no production was expected until at least 2014.

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