VIA International 2.0: Contact Info for Receiver, Update on Operations
Court-appointed receivers identified for VIA International; filings from lender NBH Capital Finance show $600,000 credit facility issued three weeks before VIA closure.
First, the question everyone is asking me: Who is the court-appointed receiver?
It is Cordes & Company, or Cordesco. Principles from Cordesco have not responded to my requests for information.
VIA's key lender and plaintiff in the case is NBH Capital Finance, represented by James T. Markus and Jeffery O. McAnallen of Denver-based Markus Williams Young and Zimmermann, LLC. The attorneys have not responded to my requests for information. Actions have been filed in Colorado District Court, Denver County under the case number 2015CV033623.
The overseers sent out this message to potentially affected parties on Oct. 20, 2015:
VIA International (the “Company”) has ceased operations and, pursuant to a Court Order, the Company’s assets have been turned over to a Receiver. Accordingly, effective immediately, no credit or shipment of any goods or services should be made to anyone that may otherwise represent the Company. In as such, please immediately cancel any and all lines of credit. In the event that you believe you have a claim against the Company or the Company’s assets, you can submit your claim (along with the appropriate supporting documentation) to Vendor.firstname.lastname@example.org.
VIA was formed in August 2013 with the merger of six leading home-technology integration firms in the luxury market:
- Cyber Sound – Scottsdale, Ariz.
- DSI Entertainment – Los Angeles
- Engineered Environments – San Francisco, with offices in Hawaii and Houston (dba Forefront Innovations)
- Paragon Technology – Aspen, Colo.
- S3 Aurant – Park City, Utah
- Studio AV - Bozeman, Mon., with offices in Missoula, Mon., and Jackson, Wyo.
The company, #4 on the CE Pro 100 2015 list of highest-revenue home technology integrators, claimed $74 million in revenues for 2014 across 20 locations.
According to the documents filed in Denver County, NBH called the defendants (comprised of the six VIA partner companies) “insolvent as they have reported that they are unable to pay their debts as they become due and are not able to pay their payroll obligations due to paid [sic] on October 14, 2015” (emphasis original).
The filing states that the total indebtedness owed by VIA was approximately $7 million in principal, together with accrued interest, attorney fees and costs and other amounts provided under the parties’ loan documents.
NBH described these credit facilities in the filing:
8/27/2013 - Revolving promissory note, $4 million 8/27/2013 - Revolving promissory note, $5 million 9/25/2015 – Term promissory note, $600,000
It is interesting to note that VIA received a new line of credit just three weeks before the bank chained the doors on its offices.
It was no secret earlier this year that VIA had been slow to pay its vendors and subcontactors. CE Pro had learned from many sources that suppliers began to limit VIA’s credit, in some cases severely.
In May 2015, VIA brought in new CEO Louis Lupo, who was experienced in venture capital, company turnarounds and operations. He told CE Pro that the company was working hard to regain support from suppliers, many of whom were beginning to see the “validation” of VIA’s business model, as economies of scale were “finally coming to fruition.”
Alas, the money simply didn’t last.
VIA Activity TodayFirst, there has been an outpouring of industry support since more than 350 employees lost their jobs at VIA. Integrators are thrilled to see a flood of experienced programmers, installers, project managers and other skilled workers flood the market.
Many dealers have written to CE Pro describing calls from VIA customers who have left hefty deposits on jobs – some in the six figures – and fear they won’t see that money again.
Other dealers tell of customers that do not have the programming code required to access their systems. If take-over integrators cannot gain access to the code, then they might have to start the systems over from scratch.
Reportedly, VIA’s position was that customers owned the underlying software code when a job was paid for, and that ownership was spelled out in contracts. In reality, however, the requisite software is now owned by the bank, which owns VIA’s computers and all data stored in the cloud.
While some customer files may reside in laptops that weren’t confiscated by the bank, most customers likely will have to petition the receivers to release their code.
CE Pro has heard that Crestron – one of the dominant home automation suppliers for VIA – is planning to assist VIA clients (via their integrators) during the transition. VIA also installed home-control systems from Savant and Control4.
Meanwhile, some of the six founding members of VIA are re-investing in their original organizations, with trucks reportedly back on the road, according to sources. Competitors, too, are swooping in on the void left by VIA.
Google “VIA International” and you will see integration companies that are all too happy to “Complete Your A/V Projects” and “offer discounts to current clients.”
A Facebook page called VIA Mudslide Relief has been set up, allegedly by a former VIA employee, to share information about VIA.
According to a post on that page AHT Global, a high-end integration firm that has offices in Florida and the Northeast, sent a representative to Los Angeles to explore the possibility of opening up an operation there.
The representative said he was in the city “interviewing former VIA employees and researching the feasibility of opening an office here where we will employ 8-12 former employees to start.”
The Los Angeles-based VIA business was “booming,” according to Lupo earlier this year, who also noted that Salt Lake City and the “Mountain region” of Colorado was “doing well.”
Dealers in the L.A. area say that Eric Thies, principal of the thriving VIA office that used to be DSI Entertainment Systems, is gearing up for a return to business, possibly with multiple offices in Southern California. A small crew of former DSI employees was slated to begin work today.
We hear likewise that the VIA office based in Aspen, Colo., formerly known as Paragon Technology and owned by Brad Whitehead and David Raife, is getting ready to roll again, possibly in partnership with the Utah business that used to be S3 Aurant.
The Aspen Times reported last month that Raife hoped to buy the Paragon brand out of receivership and re-launch the original high-end installation business. Raife told the paper that he hoped to buy the Paragon brand out of receivership and that, "We will take care of every employee, client.”
The article cited one employee, Andrew Nettleton, who says he was out a six-figure commission from VIA.
In Scottsdale, Ariz., we hear Jon Summer is already rolling trucks at his former VIA company Cyber Sound & Security. Summer had left VIA before the business shut down. So too had Arthur Mayo of S3.
Randy Stearns, principal of the Bay Area VIA company originally called Engineered Environments, left VIA as CEO in January 2015 and recently became CEO of D-Tools, a leading software provider of system design and project management software for integrators.
CE Pro continues to wish the best for VIA founders, employees, customers, suppliers and others who have been affected by the unfortunate circumstances at VIA.
RELATED: Via International Ceases Operations: High-End Home Technology Group in Receivership 6 Leading Integrators Merge to Form International Luxury Brand Integrating the Integrators: So Far, So Good for VIA International Via International Seeks Funding; Founder Randy Stearns Moves On Who Owns the Code? CE Industry’s Dirty Little Secret - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - JULIE JACOBSON
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Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at email@example.com
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