published Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Incentium shuts doors suddenly

Incentium LLC, the Chattanooga company founded as VIPGift by former owner Hamid Andalib, shut its doors permanently Wednesday to the surprise of employees.

A spokeswoman for Bridgescale Partners, part owner of Incentium, blamed the closure on difficult business and economic conditions. All of Incentium's assets will be liquidated to pay creditors, said Lisa Tarter, though she declined to elaborate.

Joan Miller, a spokeswoman for Summit Partners, another part-owner of Incentium, also declined comment beyond the terse message posted on Incentium's website.

Visitors to Incentium's Cherokee Boulevard headquarters were greeted by a locked door. A receptionist speaking through an intercom declined to give her name and refused to discuss the closure.

The abrupt shutdown will leave about 80 employees jobless, though they will be paid for accrued vacation days and their insurance is good through the end of the month, according to a former staffer who would speak only on the condition of anonymity.

"We're already shut down; we're just wrapping stuff up," he said as he packed possessions into his vehicle's trunk.

There were no severance payments, he added.

The company, started by Chattanooga entrepreneur Andalib, was founded in a back room of The Loft restaurant on Cherokee Boulevard and grew profitable in the mid-2000s by operating employee incentive programs for Fortune 500 companies, according to news reports.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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