It was a tale of two companies at the annual shareholders' meeting of Toledo's N-Viro International Corp. yesterday.
At times, the firm sounded like a promising tech venture that has made a major breakthrough in the energy field.
At other times, it was portrayed as a troubled entity that is mired in red ink and ethical issues.
"We're going to continue to grow and continue to build the company," Chief Executive Timothy Kasmoch told about 20 stock owners at Brandywine Country Club in Monclova Township.
He extolled a new product, made from sewer plant sludge, that company officials say can be combined with coal to power electricity plants.
Tests of N-Viro Fuel proved successful at a power plant this year. "The product will be very attractive to power plants that burn coal," Mr. Kasmoch said.
He predicted it will play an increasingly important role in the firm's future.
Yet the firm failed to score with N-Viro Soil, which executives have promoted for years as an environmentally friendly solution to millions of tons of waste from sewage treatment plants and farms.
The firm has rarely been profitable. Its first-quarter loss soared 85 percent from a year-earlier to $242,903 on slightly higher revenues of $1.1 million.
Last year, revenues slipped 14 percent to $3.6 million and losses increased sixfold to $1.7 million. About a third of sales are from a contract with the city of Toledo's sewage treatment plant.
N-Viro shares trade on the over-the-counter bulletin board. They gained 8 cents to close at $2.85 yesterday.
The firm's executive suite and board have been a revolving door recently. The company is chaired by James Hartung, president of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.
Founder J. Patrick Nicholson is locked in a legal fight with the firm's largest stockholder and certain current and former officers over his loss of control of the company. In a federal court suit filed in Toledo last year, he alleged that his life was threatened. Company officials denied the allegations.
Stock owner Harry Hackett, in an exchange yesterday with executives and another shareholder that at one point grew heated, raised questions about conduct of company officials.
He claimed they failed to disclose major events and diluted the value of shares by excessive issuance of stock options and warrants to insiders. Mr. Hackett also questioned the company's practice of doing business with firms in which officers and directors have an interest.
The chief executive denied any improprieties and vowed to improve the firm's financial position. "Give me one more year," Mr. Kasmoch said.
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