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Reporter Debrief: Barre Electronics Company, Once A Top Vt. Employer, Shuts Down

SB Electronics employee
Tony Talbot
Associated Press
Tim Wheelock, an employee at SB Electronics in Barre, pictured in 2010 working at the company's facility. That year, SB Electronics received a $9 million federal grant; the company shut down this week.

A Vermont company that once showed promise of being a key supplier to the electric vehicle industry is no more: SB Electronics, based in Barre, shut its doors earlier this week. It manufactured capacitors, used in electric cars, solar and wind power systems, and other technologies.

Back in 2010, SB Electronics received a $9 million federal grant to build a manufacturing facility in Barre, and its products were also in the very first Tesla cars — that's according to Dan D'Ambrosio, of the Burlington Free Press, who reported earlier this week on the company's closure.

Burlington Free Press reporter Dan D'Ambrosio spoke to VPR's Henry Epp about this reporting. Listen to their conversation above.

D'Ambrosio said SB Electronics CEO Ed Sawyer told him projections for the electric vehicle industry did not pan out as planned.

"They were expecting to be providing these capacitors — which they have a patent on, this special one — for 100,000 vehicles a year," D'Ambrosio said. "And that just did not happen."

More from the Burlington Free Press — "A VT company once supplied the electric vehicle industry and won a $9M grant. Now it's closing" [Dec. 3]

D'Ambrosio explained the company's history of manufacturing capacitors goes back decades: It moved to the Barre area in 1945, and at one time had a workforce of close to 1,000 people, making it one of the state's largest employers.

According to D'Ambrosio, Sawyer is now starting a new company, making products with SB Electronics' same patent. D'Ambrosio said Sawyer plans to take 13 of SBE's 19 remaining employees to the new venture.

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