Ricky Smith a former employee said that there hasn’t been any work for him to do since he has been at Bard.
Smith was one of the employees recently let go due to a lack of work, according to a separation notice emailed to him by Bard Holding and the Georgia Department of Labor.
Bard Holding opened its Calhoun plant in 2011, planning to make petroleum products and other products from algae. Bard also hoped to open plants in Dalton, Augusta and Milledgeville, but those plants have not opened.
Walker said the company came to Georgia with roughly $9 million in the bank, but Bard had some early financial problems.
Sources familiar with the Bard project said the company had between 35 and 40 employees in Calhoun, and according to Walker there was approximately a 20 percent layoff.
Production has not reached anticipated levels, and the company has not paid a number of its vendors.
In addition, employee paychecks have bounced, Smith said.
“I received my check on a Friday, and the check bounced. After telling the company I was told I would just have to wait. I received my money, but the next check also bounced. Each time I’ve had to wait about six days to receive payment,” Smith said.
Mike D’Aquino from U.S. Department of Labor Office of Public Affairs confirmed that there were complaints filed by Bard employees due to missed payroll but said all payroll issues have been resolved, and employees have been paid.
Bard Holding has two pending lawsuits against it in Gordon County Magistrate Court.
The first pending lawsuit was filed by Advanced Electrical System for $8,261.86. In the lawsuit the company said it “performed electrical construction, but was never paid.”
The second pending lawsuit in Magistrate Court was filed by Scott Edwards for $607. He said in the lawsuit “he provided lawn maintenance, but hasn’t been paid in four months.”
“We are looking to settle that right away and out of court,” said Walker.
Bard Holding came into Gordon County with the hopes that it could successfully produce algae products such as oil, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, protein and feedstock.
The company was founded in 2007 and opened its first research and development facility in Morrisville, Pa.
The Georgia plants “were intended to be (production plants) all the others haven’t been open for production,” Walker said. “Lack of production could be due to complications with the growth of the algae,“ he said.
“We are not yet producing at the levels we want to or need to,” said Walker. “I think there has been some significant issues from bringing it from research and development to full-blown production scales.”
According to an email to employees, the company was withholding money out of employee’s checks for medical coverage through Aetna Insurance, but coverage was dropped.
The employees were sent an email on Aug. 2 stating the coverage had been dropped on July 1.
“The employees were reimbursed for the medical insurance that was taken out of their checks,” said Walker.
Walker also is not happy with the way the company has been performing.
“There are more questions, and I am looking for answers also,” said Walker.
Walker said several venture capitalist companies are looking “real close” at the company, and he said the future looks positive for Bard Holding.
With more investors, Walker said Bard Holding would be able to get the financing it needs to boost production, and possibly bring back some of the workforce.
The company also wanted to sell stock, but the Initial Public Offering (IPO) has been withdrawn.
According to NASDAQ, the company was incorporated in November 2009, and then withdrew its IPO in December 2009.