Company Director's Whereabouts Unknown; New Company to Service CCA Clients
FAIRBURN, Ga. Six broadcasters who had paid all or part of the purchase price for new transmitters from Commercial Communication Associates Inc. but failed to receive them prior to the bankruptcy filing of the transmitter manufacturer now have their equipment. Their advance payments had totaled approximately $220,000.
Meanwhile, local police say they would like to speak with the company's director to ask about activity by CCA executives leading up to the bankruptcy filing, but they can't find him.
Separately, two former employees have started their own business servicing and selling CCA transmitter parts.
CCA ceased operations at its Fairburn, Ga., facility last November and filed under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which calls for the immediate liquidation of assets to pay off creditors. The court listed approximately 40 unsecured creditors owed a total of nearly $100,000. (Radio World is among the unsecured creditors.) In voluntary petition papers filed with the court last fall, CCA estimated total debts of between $100,001 and $500,000.
The trustee overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings of CCA says funds may be available for distribution to unsecured creditors of the former transmitter manufacturer. Proof of claims by CCA creditors must be submitted to the federally appointed bankruptcy trustee by July 21.
The six broadcasters received their transmitters this spring in various stages of completion. The bankruptcy trustee ordered each broadcaster to pay a $2,500 fee to gain possession of their partially completed transmitters.
Chris Myers, chief engineer for WGNX(FM) in Vero Beach, Fla., said the station received its rebuilt Broadcast Electronics FM30-T transmitter in early March. The station paid CCA $20,000 last June for the transmitter but it wasn't delivered before the bankruptcy filing.
"We feel fortunate to have our hands on the thing. We still have some work to do on it," Myers said, "including setting the remote logic and retuning the exciter. It will cost us another $4,000 to finish it."
The station had been preparing to upgrade from 25 kW to 50 kW, but the project was put on hold until the transmitter was delivered, Myers said.
KZDX(FM) in Burley, Idaho, paid CCA $35,713 for a new CCA GS two-tube 12 kW transmitter. The company failed to deliver prior to the bankruptcy.
"The transmitter was about half-finished when the bankruptcy trustee released it to us this spring. So we ran into some additional expenses, but we're just happy to have it," said Gerald Thaxton, chief engineer for KZDX.
The broadcaster contracted with Jerry Meier, CCA's former director of engineering, to finish the transmitter, Thaxton said.
Picking up the service
Meier and Van Nguyen, CCA's former production manager, have started V&J Electronics, based in Riverdale, Ga. The company will service and sell CCA transmitter parts.
"We hope to start building new transmitters this summer and expect to market them under the CCA name," Meier said. "We're servicing and selling parts for Sintronic and CSI transmitters, too."
Meier said V&J Electronics worked hard to "clean up the mess left by CCA" for the six broadcasters stranded without their new transmitters. "We accommodated them the best we could," he said.
V&J Electronics purchased a portion of CCA's inventory at an auction of transmitter parts and test equipment at the Fairburn headquarters in January. The sale netted about $40,000, according to court records.
Another option for users seeking CCA transmitter parts is Goodrich Enterprises Inc., in Omaha, Neb. Charles Goodrich, president of Goodrich Enterprises Inc., said the broadcast equipment supplier is stocked with most CCA transmitter parts.
"We have new and rebuilt tuning line assemblies, tubes, plate blockers, Rotron CX33 blowers ... we have nearly everything for CCA transmitters. We were one of CCA's main suppliers before they went under," Goodrich said.
Goodrich Enterprises is listed as an unsecured creditor of CCA in court papers.
Also now in possession of its transmitter is an Arkansas broadcaster who filed a complaint with Fairburn police last November. It alleged CCA executives sold the station a transmitter while knowing it was preparing to file for bankruptcy.
According to court documents, Caldwell Broadcasting paid CCA $58,096 for a transmitter for KSMD(FM) in Pangburn, Ark. KSMD officials told Radio World they made final payment for a FM-G two-tube 12 kW transmitter in late October, just weeks before CCA's filing.
Police Sergeant J.H. Metcalf said the CCA file has been classified as "inactive" for now.
"We are not currently pursuing any criminal investigation pending the outcome of CCA's bankruptcy proceedings. I feel there was some criminal intent by CCA's people. Unfortunately we would have to go overseas to find some of them," Metcalf said.
According to court documents, Commercial Communication Associates' majority owner is Sistec S.A.R.L., based in Luanda, Angola, in Africa. Sistec imports and exports transmission equipment to and from Angola and owns several other manufacturing companies. Alvar St. Aubyn is listed as director of CCA.
"We have not been able to track down St. Aubyn and a former salesman to speak with them about their involvement," Metcalf said.
Gary Brown, the attorney representing CCA in bankruptcy proceedings, declined comment.
The original CCA Electronics was founded in 1963 by a group of RCA transmitter engineers, after RCA announced it was ending its transmitter program. Ron Baker bought the company when it went bankrupt in 1982. Baker owned CCA Electronics until Commercial Communication Associates purchased the company's assets in early 2000.