Encompass to shut Columbia offices

139 jobs lost

CenterOne, FoxFire to close, fire 146

March 04, 2003|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Encompass Capital Inc. is closing its central Maryland offices in Columbia, leaving 139 workers without jobs by May, according to a report the company filed with the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

It is the latest round of bad news for the large Texas company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in November and whose chief executive resigned a month later.

The closure is "a result of a lack of work" for the company's mechanical division, which supplied heating and air conditioning service and maintenance for area businesses, said Mary Wiggins, director of corporate communications for Houston-based Encompass Capital.

She said the bankruptcy filing has left customers "skittish," affecting the company's overall financial picture.

"We've been closing offices and selling businesses for the last several months," Wiggins said. The bankruptcy filing "made our customers very skittish about our ability to complete work, and that created more uncertainty, and that fueled financial instability."

Wiggins said she did not have details on the Columbia office closure, whether it had been completed or was still in the process of closing. The state was notified of the company's plans to close last week, according to the report.

Encompass Capital's central Maryland office was created in 1998 when the national company purchased a local heating and air conditioning company called Central Air, a family-owned business with 150 employees.

Encompass offers mechanical services, electrical technologies, industrial services, residential services and cleaning systems.

The Columbia office was closed, Wiggins said, because the company is getting out of the commercial services business. Its reorganization plan calls for a focus on residential services, she said.

Commercial work is "just not something we're going to be able to go forward with," Wiggins said.

Two other local companies notified the state of their closures. FoxFire Printing in Baltimore, with 64 employees, told the state that it will close its doors by April 30, and CenterOne Remarketing Services in Hunt Valley said last week that it will close by April 22, affecting 82 employees.

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