Originally created 07/12/00

Barnwell company closes



A Barnwell, S.C., start-up company bankrolled last year by two area government economic development agencies has closed its doors.

American Anodize Corp., which puts protective coatings on window frames, ceased operations last month and is looking for a buyer.

The company's small facility near the Barnwell County Airport is being marketed by the Tri-County Alliance, an economic development agency representing Barnwell, Bamberg and Allendale counties.

The organization's chief economic developer, Danny Black, did not return telephone calls to his office Tuesday.

Other area officials say they are unsure whether another companywill take over the financially troubled operation.

"We can't tell whether it's a temporary situation or a permanent situation," said Trevor Hamilton, executive director of the Barnwell County Economic Development Commission.

American Anodize employed fewer than 10 people. It anodized, or electrostatically color-coated, metal window frames for the nearby EFCO Corp. window factory.

EFCO was American Anodize's only customer. EFCO has several other suppliers, but none as close as the company's Barnwell plant.

Officials for Monett, Mo.-based EFCO said Tuesday they are interested in seeing operations resume at the American Anodize plant, but they would not make an offer to purchase the facility.

American Anodize was founded by a group of three investors from Texas and South Carolina with help from $250,000 in venture capital funding from the Lower Savannah Council of Governments, Savannah River Regional Diversification Initiative and Regions Bank of South Carolina.

Phone calls to the Barnwell plant were unanswered, as were calls to the home of the company's local plant manager, Peter Wyckoff.

Rick Toole, chairman of the Savannah River Regional Diversification Initiative, said he was pessimistic about the group's ability to recoup its investment.

"The other lien-holders will probably get repaid some portion, not all," he said. "We would get whatever was left."

Known as SRRDI, the Aiken-based organization receives grant funds from the Department of Energy to offset job losses at Savannah River Site by encouraging the development of manufacturing and high-tech industries.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486.