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ST. LOUIS – HBE Corporation, a well-known financial facilities firm in credit union-land, is suing Clayco Construction over the alleged theft of “trade secrets.” At issue is Clayco’s newly formed financial facilities division, which consists of several former executives from HBE’s financial facilities division including Tom Lombardo who headed division sales; Financial Planner Scott Florini; Salesperson Bruce Wolferding; Senior Design Architect Clarence Steele; Graphic Designer/Administrative Assistant Mary Smolar; and Chief Operating Officer/Project Developer Paul Barrath. Barrath is the head of the new Clayco Financial Facilities division and the other employees will hold similar positions to those at HBE. An article in the St. Louis Business Journal reports that six other former employees from HBE’s financial facilities division joined Clayco individually over a several-month period prior to the group’s departure. In addition, since February 9 three more HBE executives, this time from the health care division, have jumped ship to Clayco. According to the lawsuit, HBE’s former financial facilities executives allegedly “used HBE trade secret information from its sales and marketing database to contact companies that have signed letters of agreement with HBE.” The letters contain an exclusivity clause preventing the client from any business contact with other companies regarding the project. The suit also claims that without an injunction, “HBE will be immediately and irreparably harmed” by loss of client relationships and business and present and future economic loss. Since 1984 Clayco has primarily focused its efforts on call centers/manufacturing/processing facilities for high-tech and food /beverage industries; sport/entertainment facilities; high-rise luxury condominiums/apartments and office/warehouse distribution centers exceeding 1.5 million square-feet. Despite the launch of the new division, the firm is no stranger to the financial services industry. Most recently, the company built three 177,000-square-foot buildings for Citigroup’s card division and in 2003, completed the design/build of CitiMortgage’s 515,000-square-foot operations and data center in O’Fallon, Missouri. Clayco also has built numerous call and data centers nationwide. “Clayco has been, is, and will continue to be committed to the credit union industry. The industry is exploding and Clayco Financial Facilities will meet the growing demand. Clayco is disappointed that a lawsuit was filed,” said Barrath in a statement released to CU Times. “That lawsuit, however, does not change Clayco’s commitment to serve the credit union industry. The former HBE employees now at Clayco did not have non-competition or non-solicitation agreements with HBE.” “Clayco is committed to the ethical treatment of its clients, employees and subcontractors and will continue to serve the needs of the credit union industry within the legal guidelines,” Barrath continued. “Clayco is also committed to the credit union movement, supporting the national organizations, attending trade shows and conventions, and using our staff’s 100-plus years of financial experience to assist our clients and create long-term relationships.” The first HBE salvo of a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction to stop Clayco from contacting any individual or business “for the purpose of obtaining financial facilities design/build business” has led to mixed results. An order issued by Judge Bernhardtt Drumm has only prevented Clayco from contacting HBE clients that have letters of agreement with HBE about those specific projects. Clayco may still go forward with its banking/credit union division and is permitted to contact those HBE clients about other projects. Barrath, says he’s looking forward to getting the division off the ground and so far it’s been going well. “This was just a good opportunity to belong to a very young and progressive company,” said Barrath. “We’ll be at the GAC conference with a booth and we’re looking forward to being out in the marketplace.” HBE would not comment on the lawsuit. HBE also owns and operates the Adam’s Mark hotel chain. In addition to a headquarters here, Clayco has full service offices in Chicago, Dallas and Detroit. [email protected]

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