John Allchin’s Rolodex is worth half a million dollars, according to his former employer, Hill & Markes.
Allchin worked as a salesman for the Amsterdam-based wholesale food and janitorial distribution company starting in 2010. When he quit late last month, he allegedly tried to take 58 Hill & Markes customers to his new employer, the Rochester-based wholesale packing and distribution company Acker-Pak.
Allchin and Acker-Pak now face a $500,000 lawsuit filed by Hill & Markes attorneys last week in Montgomery County Court.
According to the complaint, Allchin signed a non-compete contract when he started work for Hill & Markes three years ago. Since he quit rather than getting fired, the complaint says he is legally prohibited from working for similar distribution businesses covering Hill & Markes territory for two full years.
Court paperwork suggests Allchin was in employment negotiations with Acker-Pak before he resigned his Hill & Markes post. Even worse, Hill & Markes said, Allchin took contact information for 58 companies with him to Acker-Pak and attempted, with some success, to move their business to his new employer.
“Allchin independently and/or in concert with Acker-Pak used H&M’s confidential information,” the complaint read, “as evidenced by the precipitous drop in H&M’s profits relative to the 58 customers.”
Aside from the contact information, the complaint says Allchin took detailed information about each customer’s previous orders, how their businesses work and profit margins for each product. Such information, the suit claims, constitutes trade secrets.
“We deny all their allegations,” said Glenn Pezzulo, the attorney representing both Acker-Pak and Allchin.
He said the lawsuit is deeply flawed in a number of ways.
“It hinges upon the idea that Allchin took proprietary information,” he said. “We’re talking about contact information. You can get that out of a phone book.”
Within the industry, he said, scores of distribution companies are constantly vying for the business of area customers. While there is some overlap between Acker-Pak and Hill & Markes, he said they provide different services: His client specializes in packing, while Hill & Markes deals largely in wholesale foods and such.
Pezzulo also denied any breach of contract. He said Allchin’s 2010 agreement with Hill & Marks expired in September of this year, making him a free agent.
In addition to the $500,000, Hill & Markes seeks legal boundaries to stop Acker-Pak from poaching more of its business, including a contact search of Allchin’s personal computers and smartphone.
Hill & Markes’ attorney Christian Soller could not be reached Monday for comment for this story.