An Indian Land company that had plans to create 300 jobs in Lancaster County told its workers this week that their jobs and health benefits are finished.
Titanium Solutions, a company that worked on behalf of major banks to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, announced Wednesday that it has suspended operations immediately.
The business, owned by Titanium Holdings Inc., moved into a 42,000-square-foot office tower at the Edgewater Office Park in 2009.
The headquarters, which employed real estate professionals known as “home retention consultants,” had at least 100 employees.
One of those workers, LaTanya Gordon, said that she knew the company was “struggling” but that news of its closing was a surprise.
At a 2:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday, most of the employees were told not to show up to work the next day and that their health benefits would expire at midnight, she said.
Many employees feel the company didn’t follow a federal labor law that governs workers’ rights when a company closes or conducts layoffs, Gordon said.
A group of employees retained a lawyer to protect their rights to wages and benefits under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, she said.
“WARN offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration’s website.
Gordon still has her job until March 27 because she’s part of a team working on a project with Titanium Solutions’ last client, she said.
She’s worried, though, about not having health insurance for her two children in two weeks, Gordon said. Her son, 12, has asthma and needs to go to the doctor frequently. She also has a 6-year-old daughter.
Gordon has worked at Titanium Solutions’ Indian Land office since 2009, starting as a quality control monitor when the business had a contract with Wells Fargo.
Earlier this year, she was essentially “demoted,” she said, when Titanium Solutions lost its Wells Fargo contract.
The company also lost its business with Bank of America, she said.
Titanium Solutions should have given more warning to its workers that the business was closing, she said.
“I felt like it was a family company,” Gordon said.
She’s seen a lot of people “come and go,” she said, but she’s stuck with Titanium Solutions through hard times.
In the past, during “hard times” the company has communicated through email to employees, Gordon said.
“They kind of cared at one point,” she said.
But on Friday afternoon, Gordon said, it felt like the company had left its employees out of the loop.
Lancaster County’s Economic Development office had no idea the closure was coming, said Keith Tunnell, president and economic development director.
“We want to work with the company to ensure that the employees’ rights are protected and that every effort is made to assist them during this transition and that the company will work with us to that end,” he said on Friday.
Lancaster County economic development officials plan to hold a conference call with Titanium Solutions’ human resources department on Monday, he said.
Next week, “we will know more about how best to work with the company and the HR team there and to assist these workers with finding new employment and to make sure they know the options available to them with state and federal workforce assistance programs,” Tunnell said.
“We have several companies hiring, and the region is rebounding, so it is our hope that we can assist these workers in finding new employment opportunities.”
Titanium Solutions was slated to receive county incentives if it had reached its job creation goal, he said.
The two parties entered into an incentive agreement in 2009, he said, contingent on Titanium Solutions creating 200 jobs and investing in the local area.
The investment requirement was met, Tunnell said, “but the company committed to 200 jobs, and that job number was never realized.”
Since locating in Indian Land, Titanium Solutions has received no local incentives from Lancaster County, he said.
In its announcement through the S.C. Department of Commerce, Titanium Solutions said it planned to hire 300 people by 2014.
In 2010 and 2011, the company paid more than $93,000 in taxes to Lancaster County, Tunnell said.
The company – founded in 1999 – also had offices in Salt Lake City, Utah. On Friday, it was unclear whether its Utah office was still operating.
A company representative could not be reached Friday afternoon.
A representative from Titanium Solutions returned an email to The Herald, directing questions to AEG Partners, a firm that will “step quickly into complex or distressed business situations and help our clients achieve the best possible outcome,” according to its website.
Representatives from AEG Partners did not return calls from The Herald.
On the company’s website, there was a statement about its closing which included, “Scores of families across the country have benefitted directly from the in person services offered by Titanium Solutions.”
“And while this service has delivered success to our clients and their borrowers, improving mortgage delinquency, declining foreclosures, and improved servicer processes have taken their toll on face-to face outreach volumes,” according to the statement on the website.
“As a result of declining volumes and marketplace changes, Titanium has suspended operations and is no longer accepting new business.”
Anna Douglas • 803-329-4068