Systems integrator AZCAR ceases business

Following years of financial uncertainty and poor performance as a publicly traded company, veteran systems integrator AZCAR, once among the five largest broadcast facility design and implementation firms in the industry, has closed its doors and ceased business operations as of Wednesday March 23. The company's entire board of directors, led by company founder Stephen Pumple, chairman and CEO, has resigned. AZCAR will now be operated under the control of a chief liquidation officer.

In addition, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada has halted trading of all of the corporation's 15,566,350 common shares outstanding, which were selling on the TSX Venture Exchange for 0.035 cents (Canadian).

Based in Markham, Ontario, with a U.S. office in Canonsburg, PA, and in the United UK, AZCAR had roughly 140 employees working from these production and integration facilities as well as eight regional sales offices. During a global conference call on Wednesday, the entire staff was informed of the decision to close up shop. According to a company insider, many were shocked at the news.

Since early 2007, the engineering consulting, design and integration company had sustained losses due to a poor economy and a number of financial missteps, including the acquisition of Matchframe Video, a full-service media company in Burbank, CA, serving motion picture, TV and multimedia clients, in 2009. That investment was written off last year. AZCAR also sold off its wholly owned subsidiary in England, Megahertz Broadcast Systems, last September to a subsidiary of KIT digital for an undisclosed amount.

The company had completed a number of projects as recently as six months ago, including those for ESPN, in Bristol, CT, and Fox SportNet in Houston, but efforts to stabilize its financial health had not been successful.

John Luff, a regular contributor to Broadcast Engineering and a professional systems engineer who worked at AZCAR for six years, and left in March 2006, said a lot of state-of-the-art broadcast facility projects were completed by AZCAR, so its legacy is secure.

“I invested a lot of years in a company (Synergistic Technologies) that AZCAR bought, and a lot of my friends still worked there until Wednesday, so it's sad to see AZCAR go down,” he said. “Times and market conditions change, and it's hard for some companies to adjust.”

Patrick W. Carothers, a partner with Pittsburgh-based firm Thorp, Reed & Armstrong, has been the U.S. counsel to AZCAR and will oversee liquidation proceedings. There was no word on when those proceedings will commence.