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Saratoga Frameworks factory shuts down

Published March 13, 2014

SARATOGA, N.Y. (BRAIN) — Saratoga Frameworks, a custom and contract frame maker that operated out of the former Serotta factory in upstate New York, has closed.

Saratoga's approximately eight remaining employees were told Wednesday to hand in their keys and gather any remaining personal items at the factory, one of the employees told BRAIN. The employee said he was told that if he didn't hear any news in 24 hours he should file for unemployment benefits. The employee asked that his name not be used because it could complicate his efforts to find a new job.

Messages left on the Saratoga factory's voice mail system early Thursday were not returned. Later on Thursday, an automated message on the same line thanked callers for contacting "Serotta Custom Bicycles," and said the factory was "unfortunately shut down." 

The factory was being operated by Brian Case, who did not respond to requests for comment from BRAIN on Thursday. Last year Case told BRAIN that, though he was a board member and principal in the Divine Cycling Group, which had bought the Serotta bike company, he was operating Saratoga Frameworks on his own, independently of Divine.

Divine filed for bankruptcy in December. In its initial bankruptcy filing Divine did not list any assets related to Serotta.

But former Serotta CEO Bill Watkins has challenged that. Watkins, who is a creditor in the bankruptcy proceedings, is also suing Divine and Case for breach of contract; he hopes to recover about a half year's salary and benefits of $87,000 not paid to him after he was fired last summer, plus $22,000 in damages and legal fees. Watkins was not available for comment Thursday but has previously told BRAIN that he believes the Serotta assets should be included in the Divine bankruptcy and distributed to the creditors.

According to the former Saratoga Frameworks employee, Case told the employees this week that he was shutting the factory because the bankruptcy trustee was taking it over.

By coincidence, on Friday the bankruptcy court revealed the buyers of assets belonging to Mad Fiber wheel maker DCG Wheels. DCG was owed by Divine and filed for bankruptcy separately in December. Former pro race team owner Bob Stapleton bought the brand's intellectual property for $31,000 in an online sealed-bid auction.

Case envisioned Saratoga as both a contract builder and a vendor of bikes under its own name. The brand had about four U.S. dealers and at least two contract customers. One of the contract customers was the British e-commerce retailer Planet X, which licenses the Tomac bike brand. Saratoga built several Tomac prototypes for Planet X, one of which was shown at Interbike last fall. Saratoga also built a few Planet X-branded frames.

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