Starfire files for Chapter 11 protection

Starfire Systems, a Malta-based maker of high-temperature silicon carbide composites and ceramics, f

Starfire Systems, a maker of high-temperature silicon carbide composites and ceramics, turned left when the economy turned right and found itself in the wrong place, according to the company’s chief executive officer, Herb Armstrong.

The Malta-based company, which employs 19 people, filed a Chapter 11 restructuring petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albany on Thursday.

The company is trying to realign its strategy with its business operations but is struggling with its landlord, Troy-based United Step I, which took the company to court for unpaid rent. United Step I is suing Starfire in state Supreme Court in Rensselaer County, saying it is owed $355,000.

“There was a lease that was entered into some time ago,” Armstrong said by phone Thursday, declining to be specific because of the ongoing litigation. “That party has taken court action. It was unfortunate, but it has forced us into a bankruptcy.”

The 21-year-old company is located in the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park. Its main customers are in the automotive and aerospace industries.

The company’s bankruptcy filing lists nine main creditors, including the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is owed $100,000.

Starfire listed assets of $2.7 million and debts of $3.6 million in its bankruptcy filing, as well as annual revenue of $4.3 million.

Armstrong has been CEO since January but has been with the company for nine years, previously serving as vice president of sales marketing and business development.

In November, the company laid off half its work force — 19 employees — as it struggled during the recession.

Armstrong said the company endured losses and was headed in the wrong direction up until the beginning of his tenure as CEO. But he expects it to be profitable as it debuts new fire-resistant technologies at the end of the month that will have several potential uses, including public safety outlets like rail cars, airplanes and building constructions.

“It’s been on the market on a development basis,” Armstrong said. “Sometime before the end of the month we will announce that product’s full commercialization. There are companies currently using the materials now.”

Categories: Business

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