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Former Vertex CEO Files For Bankruptcy

By Cece Nunn, posted Jun 23, 2021
The former CEO of defunct rail car company Vertex, Donald Croteau, filed for bankruptcy in May, a filing that includes debts related to Vertex Railcar Corp. and its predecessor, Vertex Rail Technologies LLC.

The Chapter 7 filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina listed more than $780,000 in liabilities.

By far the largest debt in the filing is described as a judgment and business debt of about $500,000, owed to Daniel Bigda, one of the founding partners of Vertex Rail Technologies LLC.

Bigda previously was sued by Vertex and also sued Vertex and Croteau. On Wednesday, Bigda, who lives in Massachusetts, said his lawsuit against the company and Croteau, which stemmed from Bigda's 35% ownership in Vertex Rail Technologies and failure to garner any proceeds from the company, is still ongoing in Massachusetts.

Reached Wednesday, Croteau declined to comment for this story. 

Croteau, along with then-Gov. Pat McCrory and state and local officials, announced in November 2014 that Vertex Rail Technologies would be coming to Wilmington and creating more than 1,300 jobs at the former Terex Crane facility, 202 Raleigh St.

Officials at the time, including Croteau, said the company would supply new tank cars designed to conform to new government safety regulations.

Before coming to Wilmington, Croteau previously led a Massachusetts company, Vertex Fab & Design. He filed for bankruptcy on behalf of Vertex F & D in May 2015, a case that was closed in 2019.

In the years that followed the initial Vertex Rail announcement in Wilmington, the excitement sparked by Vertex's arrival was followed by lawsuits, layoffs, a plunge in rail car demand and eventually, around the end of 2018, the shutting down of Vertex Railcar Corp.

Vertex Railcar Corp. was a joint venture between Vertex Rail Technologies and Chinese investors.

In 2019, the shuttered Vertex Railcar Corp. faced an involuntary bankruptcy petition, which claimed the company owed more than $45 million. The most recent document filed in that case came in January this year, referencing a sale of assets that resulted in gross proceeds of $425,000 and net proceeds to the estate of $230,000.

Croteau's bankruptcy filing in May of this year said he was the CEO of Vertex Railcar Corp., holding no ownership interest, from June 2015 to November 2017, when he resigned. Vertex Rail Technologies and Vertex Railcar Corp. are listed as codebtors in Croteau's filing.

These days, Croteau is a Wilmington-based Realtor, listed on the Keller Williams Wilmington website. He has also been representing a Wilmington-based developer, Thriving LLC, on proposed projects in Columbus County. Those projects include a subdivision for which a conditional use permit was approved by the Whiteville City Council on Tuesday night, according to an article in The News Reporter. 
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