Calgary

Employees shocked after Athlete Factory suddenly shuts its doors

A Calgary athletic centre has shut down abruptly, leaving employees stunned and wondering how to get their last paycheque.

'Dec. 15 we expected to get a paycheque and instead we got an email saying the company is shut down'

Mercedes Hamilton says she's wondering how she'll get her last paycheque after her employer, The Athlete Factory, suddenly closed. (Helen Pike/CBC)

A Calgary athletic centre has shut down abruptly, leaving employees stunned and wondering how to get their final paycheques.

Employee Mercedes Hamilton said she went to work at The Athlete Factory in southeast Calgary as usual on Saturday. But on Sunday, she received an email at 1 a.m. saying the business was closed. 

"I was devastated … Dec. 15 we expected to get a paycheque and instead we got an email saying the company is shut down," she said.

Hamilton drove to work, where she found the building locked and a sign on the door.

"Dear valued customers, it comes with great sadness that we must inform you that, despite our best efforts and the hard work of our employees, we have been forced to permanently close The Athlete Factory with immediate effect. We had hoped for a different outcome; however, operations have proved to be no longer sustainable," the sign read. 

The company's website was still up as of Monday evening but its social media accounts have been deleted.

A sign posted to The Athlete Factory's front door says the southeast Calgary business has shut down. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Hamilton said she started working for The Athlete Factory as a full-time receptionist in August, and she said at no point did anyone communicate that the company was in financial trouble. 

She said the company had a few hundred clients, and 18 employees.

In an email sent to employees, owners Paul and Laura Balsom wrote that shutting down was a difficult decision but unanticipated setbacks forced their hands.

The email suggested employees reach out to Alberta Labour for assistance on how to deal with lost wages, records of employment and T4s.

Sponsored athlete says closure's a 'big hit'

Dan McIntosh is a golfer, who has been sponsored by The Athlete Factory since 2017. 

He was supposed to meet with his trainer at the facility on Sunday — but his trainer called saying the session was off, because the building was closed. He hasn't heard from the owners. 

He said he was "extremely surprised," as the centre was always busy and was a great spot for cutting-edge sports research.

"It's certainly a big hit. I mean, as an athlete we pride ourselves on the team that we have around us and The Athlete Factory was always a big part of that for the last two years for me," he said.

"It's back to the self-motivating grind."

CBC News has reached out to the owners for comment and has yet to receive a response. 

With files from Helen Pike

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