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Former tablet maker BAK USA reports more than $39 million loss in Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing

Posted at 6:16 PM, Apr 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 14:22:56-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Now-defunct tablet manufacturer Bak USA is in serious financial trouble.

A review of the company's March 29 Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing shows that the company only has $147,430 in assets, and is reporting a more than $39 million loss. That figure includes $9 million from a 20-year lease on the building in which it operated.

Bak USA abruptly shutdown operations at its Michigan Avenue headquarters in November, laying off all 77 employees. At the time, company leaders cited Trump-era tariffs as the reason for the company's peril, saying "the economic pressures on the young company had become too great to withstand."

Golisano was a big backer of the startup company, and he owned 50 percent of the company when it debuted in 2015. The bankruptcy filing shows Golisano's ownership had increased to 67 percent of the company, and he had 4 million shares of company stock. The filing further shows that BAK owes Golisano more that $25 million.

The company also owes nearly $900,000 in unpaid invoices to Elitegroup Computers Systems, LLC, and owes six-figure sums to other vendors as well.

The grassroots company had 15 employees when it opened to much fanfare in 2015. It produced three types of mobile computers: the Atlas 12 2-in-1 laptop for K-12 schools, the Seal laptop for field work, and the Bak Board - the original tablet from Bak USA.

BAK USA was also a STARTUP-NY company, which allowed it to operate without paying income, property, sales or corporate tax for its first 10 years.

It expanded its headquarters in the Compass East building in 2017, adding a combined 18,000 square feet and adding a new product workshop. The bankruptcy filing indicates Bak USA made about $6.8 million in revenue in both 2017 and 2018.

Signs of financial trouble arose in fall 2018 when the company announced it would continue operations under a management buyout. The company's abrupt closure happened just two months later.

The contents of the shuttered plant were auctioned off in January.