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Tuesday, October 3, 2000
By Jim Bodor Telegram & Gazette Staff
WESTBORO-- Some ominous storm clouds are gathering around Alden Electronics Inc., a weather information company.
The Worcester County sheriff has shut the company and seized its computers, satellite dishes and other weather-gathering devices, Deputy Sheriff Al Bove said yesterday.
The move came in response to a lawsuit in Westboro District Court filed by 40 Washington Ltd. Partnership, an arm of Carruth Capital LLC, which owns the building at 40 Washington St., where Alden Electronics is situated. Alden Electronics owes the partnership more than $107,000 in rent, according to Mr. Bove and court records.
According to the court records, Alden agreed to two judgments totaling about $107,000. The court then issued an execution, which gives the sheriff authority to seize the company's assets and sell them to satisfy the judgments.
The lawyer for the partnership, Joseph R. Jenkins of Shrewsbury, said it initiated the seizure because it wants to free up Alden's space so it can be leased to another business. "They went a number of months without paying, and we just couldn't wait any more," Mr. Jenkins said. He declined to say how many months had passed without payment and declined to comment further. Eight others creditors are owed various amounts, in most cases for leased equipment, said Mr. Bove.
The creditors include First Sierra Financial of Houston; Mercantile Capital of Wynnewood, Pa.; and Bayview Funding of Palo Alto, Calif., he said. The sheriff's office is in the process of contacting those creditors to determine how much each is owed, Mr. Bove said.
The sheriff's office will hold an auction of Alden's property as soon as each creditor is contacted and agrees to the auction, he said.
The lawyer for Alden, Joseph H. Baldiga of Worcester, declined to comment. Alden's chief executive officer, David K. Doyle, did not return calls seeking a comment.
Alden Electronics has weathered some stormy times since its founder, John H. Alden, died in 1989.
At its peak, the more than 50-year-old company sold a wide range of weather products and services, including satellite phone systems, computer-based weather-information receiving stations and even heavy-duty fax machines used by the Marines.
The company also sold a computerized list of government bids and contracts called the Commerce Business Daily, and packages of weather information used by newspapers, television stations and ocean-going boats.
Before Mr. Alden's death, the company tallied annual sales of about $20 million. By 1995, the company's revenue dwindled to about $13 million per year, while losses climbed to $1.8 million.
In 1997, the company was delisted from the Nasdaq Stock Market when its share price dropped below minimum levels.
That year, the company was sold to AEIRE Corp. of Sunrise, Fla., which later sold Alden to Platinum Equity Holdings of California.
Last year, Platinum sold Alden to WELS Research Corp. of Boulder, Colo., another weather data and forecasting company. At that time Alden had 28 employees. WELS still owns the company. WELS officials referred all questions to Mr. Doyle.
© 2000 Worcester Telegram & Gazette