Massachusetts company run by Vertex Rail CEO files for bankruptcy

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Vertex Rail CEO Donald Croteau. Port City Daily file photo.
Vertex Rail CEO Donald Croteau. Port City Daily file photo.

Vertex Fab & Design, a Massachusetts-based company owned and operated by Vertex Rail CEO Donald Croteau, has filed for bankruptcy.

The Middleboro, Massachusetts, company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on May 5. Croteau, who announced his 1,300-job venture Vertex Rail in Wilmington last November, is listed on the bankruptcy filing as managing member of the company.

Croteau spoke to Port City Daily about his different Vertex ventures in December 2014. Croteau formed Vertex Rail about two years ago as an offshoot of Vertex Fab & Design, which producers containers, pressure vessel and vacuum chambers for a client list that includes NASA and Wilmington’s GE Hitatchi.

“The reason you don’t hear much about us is because the industries that we serve are fairly quiet,” Croteau said in 2014. “We’re really not in front of the industry. We don’t make the car; we make part of the car. We don’t make the semiconductor chip; we make the vessel or the tank that they make the chip in.”

According to the filing, Vertex Fab & Design lists an estimated 100 to 199 creditors, who are owed between $1 million and $10 million.

Croteau did not respond to an email seeking comments about the bankruptcy filing or what it could mean for Wilmington’s Vertex facility.

Vertex Rail

Once fully operational, Croteau said the site will produce 18 cars a day, five or six days a week, with an annual output of up to 5,000 cars a year.

The company partnered with Cape Fear Community College on hiring and training, which will be customized according to the company’s needs. The company plans to hire at least 10 percent of its Wilmington workforce through the local Hometown Hires program, and Croteau and others said many of the jobs would be targeted to unemployed military veterans.

Related story: Vertex Rail to bring 1,300 jobs, $60M investment to Wilmington

Positions needed to launch production include assemblers and fitters, welders, and painters, as well as positions in engineering, logistics, quality assurance, sales, safety and management.

“We’re a fairly small company—there are four partners in Vertex Rail; it’s privately funded to this point by us—and we really don’t need the notoriety or publicity,” Croteau said in his Port City Daily interview. “It’s kind of unnecessary, because we’re selling to a very focused industry and a very focused group of people who know who we are and know what we do.”

Jobs will range from assemblers and fitters, welders, and painters, and include positions in engineering, logistics, quality assurance, sales, safety and management. Salaries will average about $40,000 annually, according to a press release, which notes an economic analysis by UNCW’s Woody Hall that projects an annual economic impact of $1.1 billion for Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties.

Related story: Council OKs additional rail access for Vertex Rail facility

State Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said North Carolina will contribute more than $600,000 toward infrastructure improvements to accommodate the facility, which is located on Raleigh Street just south of the Port of Wilmington. Those funds include $200,000 from N.C. Railroad Company dividends for improvements to the rail line serving the facility, $305,000 from economic development funds for improvements to a rail crossing on River Road, and $100,000 in contingency funds for improvements to Raleigh Street.