Once-heralded Glenwood high-tech firm closes

A high-tech Glenwood Springs company that was named one of 50 Colorado Companies to Watch for 2011 has shut down.

Fiberforge made lightweight thermoplastic composites as well as the equipment to produce them. The composites, strengthened by glass, carbon and other fibers, were put to recreation, automotive, military and other uses.

The company, incorporated in Delaware, has filed what’s called an assignment for the benefit of creditors in Chancery Court in Delaware, according to a news release from Chicago-based Development Specialists, Inc.

The state process is akin to a bankruptcy filing, and Fiberforge’s assets have been put into an irrevocable trust handled by a neutral fiduciary, which in this case is DSI, said DSI agent Steve Victor.

“Our job is to wind down the affairs of the company and to liquidate and/or sell the assets to maximize the value so we can use the proceeds to pay the creditors,” he said.

He said one possibility is that the physical and intellectual property could be sold to a single buyer so the business could reopen.

“We sell these assets subject to the highest and best offer,” he said.

Fiberforge representatives could not be reached for comment. Two engineers who founded Fiberforge, Jon Fox-Rubin and David Cramer, worked for the Snowmass-based Rocky Mountain Institute research organization in the mid-1990s on designing a highly fuel-efficient car. Their resulting interest in lightweight composites led to the creation of a company called Hypercar, which later became Fiberforge.

Its products were used in everything from kayak paddles to aircraft and automotive seat frames. A military contract to make cargo flooring for helicopters drove its expansion. In 2011 it grew by 20 employees, to 43, and moved to a larger facility in Glenwood Springs. The 2011 honor it received in a state-supported program prompted a visit by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

DSI said Fiberforge had successful products and customer interest but struggled to consistently make a profit.

“Sometimes (high-tech) firms have products that are before their times,” Victor said. “Sometimes they have products that are just not used in the industry or the lead times are too long. That’s the risk that one takes with high technology.”

Victor said he knows there is interest in Fiberforge’s assets.

Said Marianne Virgili, president and chief executive officer of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, “It is always devastating to hear about a business closing its doors. Fiberforge had shown so much promise and was at the cutting edge, developing products that were both innovative and environmentally conscious. Their team was extremely talented, and their workforce contributed in many ways to our community. We wish all their employees the best.”



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