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Worker says Loris company shut operations without paying salaries

(WPDE)

In 2015, Canadian-owned Accent Stainless Steel moved into Loris. The groundbreaking for its factory was celebrated as a boon to the area, with promises of 65 jobs.

Today, that factory, now owned by DME Brewing Solutions, stands empty. Its operations were shut down suddenly in late November.

"Everything seemed to be fine, we were rocking and rolling trying to get orders out," Benjamin Trant said, explaining that he got a message while he was on vacation in late November. "Doors are closed, boys, go home until further notice. And that was it."

Alvarez & Marsal, a corporation specializing in rescuing financially troubled companies, reported that the Canadian Supreme Court granted it receivership of DME on Nov. 26, 2018.

It reported that hundreds of people and companies were owed money by the brewery equipment manufacturer.

Trant said the creditors were not the only people owed money. He said he and the other eight employees at the Loris plant weren't paid for their final two weeks, as well as accrued vacation time.

He showed ABC15 his bank statements, which showed a deposit in late November and withdrawal for the same amount about a week later. He said that withdrawal was made by the payroll company.

"It was extracted from our accounts. The only thing we can hear is that we're out of luck," he said.

Failure to pay owed wages for any reason is a violation of South Carolina state law, which reads: "When an employer separates an employee from the payroll for any reason, the employer shall pay all wages due to the employee within 48 hours of the time of separation or the next regular payday which may not exceed 30 days."

The closure of the plant could wind up benefiting the area, Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation President & CEO Sandy Davis explained.

Davis said many manufacturing companies interested in moving to Horry County are turned off by the lack of available facilities.

"Everyone has land," she said.

She said she's already had some businesses approach her about the building, which is listed for sale on multiple websites.

Trant said those listings raised his suspicions.

Based on the positioning of the equipment inside the facility, he estimated that the photographs were taken in September, more than a month before the doors shut.

He said if that was true, it meant higher-ups hid the closure from the workers, while telling them to work harder.

"We're hopeful to just get what we earned, what's ours," Trant said. "That's all we want."

ABC 15 reached out to both DME and Alvarez & Marsal. The phone number listed for DME was disconnected. Alvarez & Marsal's line sent our reporter straight to voicemail.

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