THE under-fire boss of Christmas crash firm Kaiam has apologised to workers and admitted he failed.
Speaking to the Evening News from his home in the US, Bardia Pezeshki blamed “brutal” billion dollar industry competition for the collapse.
He claimed the Livingston-based optical manufacturer had been teetering on the brink for a decade but praised workers for helping deliver “awesome” technology.
“I feel absolutely awful,” said Mr Pezeshki. “It sucks, and the timing could not have been more horrific.
“There is always a lot of risk in high technology companies and startups and many fail.”
The firm’s staff were told on Christmas Eve that 310 out of the plant’s 338 workers were being made redundant with immediate effect.
Mr Pezeshki was labelled a “coward” for flying home to California but said he spent Christmas trying to help US Kaiam workers.
He said an £850,000 Scottish Enterprise grant in 2014 was easily swallowed up by massive overheads at the Livingston plant while most investment came from America.
Had the firm succeeded, Mr Pezeshki said all workers would have benefitted as he ensured they all had stock options.
“When we did have minor successes, I persuaded our board of directors to allow me to give a bonus to everyone,” he added. “I tried to make people feel part of a team, that we are all in this together.”
And of criticism by ex-staff, he said: “I understand that they are upset and angry. But people need to find someone to blame.
“The insinuation that I was deliberately trying to hurt people before Christmas – Grinch like – is just them lashing out in anger at the horrific situation. People who have started companies know that it is hard work, and takes a lot of sacrifice.”
Mr Pezeshki said both he and the Kaiam founders took no money out in the first two years and management did not take wages in the last two months in a rescue bid.
“I am very proud of our team. It’s been horrible emotionally. I am obviously sorry for what happened. It’s absolutely tragic. I was the CEO and it was my job to run the company, make it profitable, and get a good exit for the investors. I failed to do that at the end.
“On the positive side, we did create jobs for hundreds of people for many years, and developed a great technology that I hope will continue to be used to make the world better for everyone.”
Meanwhile, mystery still surrounds why some ex-Kaiam workers have had December wages appear in their accounts with a banking error among possible explanations.
A West Lothian Council spokesman confirmed all 52 applications for the Scottish Welfare Fund received since Kaiam’s closure will be processed by today “and the payment for those approved will be made available immediately”.