A Carleton Place company that specialized in customizing fire trucks and other emergency vehicles shut down suddenly on Monday, leaving two dozen employees locked out and confused.

A notice on the front door claims that Eastway911 did not pay its $12,000 rent this month — and states the Ottawa landlord, Kilkee Corporation, wants $500,000 in damages and penalties.

Employees are still not certain if the closure of the company is temporary or permanent.

"Everybody was so blindsided. It was just shock," said Josh Goodsell, Eastway911's parts and services manager. "As far as I know, we're still employees, we just don't have anywhere to work."

Goodsell told CBC News he and other employees were allowed inside the plant on Tuesday to collect personal belongings. The uncertainty over Eastway911's fate is the most difficult part, he added.

"You don't know, like, should I be looking for another job?" said Goodsell.

A lawyer for Eastway911 told CBC News in a written statement that the rent was overdue because company director Michael Cappy was out of the country and unavailable to sign a cheque.

Eastway 911

A notice on the front door of Eastway911 claims the doors were locked because the company did not pay its $12,000 November rent. (CBC)

The statement said the company is considering how to continue to operate the business in what it describes as a "challenging and disappointing situation."

"Eastway911 Emergency Vehicles Ltd. has paid municipal taxes and remains ready, willing, and able to pay November rent. It has advised Kilkee Corp. of this fact," the statement added.

Cornwall Freightliner, a trucking parts and service company in Cornwall, is one business that's now looking at its options after the sudden closure.

Freightliner frames are part of two new trucks at Eastway911, and two more frames are headed there now, said sales associate Karl Paschek.

"So, a total of four of them for half a million dollars," said Paschek.

Kilkee Corporation refused to comment on the record.