Bend's Epic Air Plane Factory Quiet As Questions Mount

The doors are locked, the parking lot is empty and the owner of Bend's kit plane maker, Epic Air, is apparently nowhere to be found, according to one aviation industry Website. 

Just eight months ago, Epic Air's general manager, Dave Hice, told NewsChannel 21, "My factory is full, but I don't produce hundreds of airplanes. We've always been very frugal with how we spend money. We watch every dollar we spend very carefully."

At the time, Epic Air had some 200 employees making parts for kit planes that customers come and put together themselves. Hice had had hopes of adding 100 more.

"We need to focus on products we're building and people we're supporting," said Hice.

Today, the scene at Epic Air is far different. The once-bustling building is now locked shut, the parking lot empty and the owner, Rick Schrameck, is seemingly unreachable.

The only clue as to what happened, a note on the front door claiming the owner failed to pay rent and the landlord, ER1, a Delaware limited liability company, has taken possession of the property.

On top of that, Epic Air recently was slapped with a lawsuit from one kit plane buyer and builder, claiming the company failed to deliver the engine for his kit. 

The lawsuit also claimed Epic Air hasn't received any new plane orders in virtually the past year.

In a response filed with the court, Epic Air's Schrameck said it has been hurt by the recession but is "actively pursuing promising opportunities for additional revenue and has every intention of continuing as an active business."

Adding to the mystery, this week an employee told NewsChannel 21 some workers haven't received their last paychecks, and that health care benefits apparently had not been paid.

The last news release posted at is from a year ago, touting that "business is booming."

Efforts Friday to reach lawyers for Epic Air or the lien holders were unsuccessful.

One worker answering the phones at Epic Air last week said only seven workers had not been either laid off or furloughed. She told us some employees would return in mid-August, after last week's big air show in Oshkosh, Wis., air show.

But now, calls to the company go to voice mail - and mailboxes are full, so no messages can be left - so it's still unclear whether the doors are locked for good.

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