Williams Moving and Storage has closed its doors, taken down its website and filed for bankruptcy after 86 years in business.
Unifor Local 114, the union representing 125 of the company's 300 employees in B.C. and Alberta says it's their understanding workers won't be receiving their final pay cheques.
The closure was announced to shocked workers Wednesday afternoon during a conference call, said the union's national representative Mark Cameron.
"It did not go down well. People are understandably upset," he said.
"On the other hand, the signs have been there for some time. The company had not been doing well and when we were at the bargaining table last spring we were aware of the difficulties they had."
Owner operators owed thousands
Cameron said owner-operators who put up their own money to haul for Williams will be out thousands of dollars.
"They’ve put out a lot of money in terms of fuel costs and labour costs, hiring swampers and that sort of thing — in some cases tens of thousands of dollars they aren’t going to get back," he said. "For some of our members they’re out two months, not only in pay, but also in expenses."
According to Cameron, Williams never recovered from the 2008 recession.
"The real problem, I believe, is Williams specializes in major government and corporate contracts, and after the recession of '08, those kinds of contracts did not bring in the kind of money they’d had, and they could never quite break out of that and expand their business beyond that."
Cameron said Williams has lost $17 million since 2009.
Because it never recovered from the recession, he said it was struggling to survive in a highly competitive business with thin margins and aging capital infrastructure.
Cameron said Williams' management told the union at a meeting Thursday morning, it had no plans to continue with the business and intended to sell all the company's assets at auction.
Jim Williams in a brief interview said customers who have items in storage can recover them through Deloitte, the receiver.
Williams Moving (Cranbrook) Ltd which has branches in Cranbrook, B.C. and Lethbridge. Alta., are not affected by the closures.