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Changes to BP oil spill clean-up plan leave Texas boom makers soaked

You might call it a case of boom and bust. Literally.

Two Tarrant County-area companies are among a number that say they have been seriously strained financially as a result of international energy giant BP ordering large volumes of containment boom to corral oil from its huge Gulf of Mexico spill, then abruptly saying it didn't need nearly so much boom after all.

Victory Awning, a Fort Worth company that hurriedly made boom for BP after the April 20 Macondo well blowout, and Value Vinyls, a Grand Prairie-based supplier of vinyl to 12 boom manufacturers that agreed to supply BP, say they've been left in the lurch by the sudden about-face.

Victory CEO and owner Larry Buck told the Star-Telegram Friday that he invoiced BP for $380,000 for boom. Victory filled three orders for BP and "had the fourth one ready to send when they suspended our purchase order," Buck said.

BP said the boom didn't meet specifications, though a BP inspector came to the company's facility on Old Randol Mill Road in east Fort Worth and "said all products met BP's specs at the time of shipment," Buck said.

He said he invested $750,000 in the effort to supply BP. Now, he says, he's left with excess inventory, including hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of vinyl and galvanized steel chain.

"This has sucked up my cash flow," he said. "I've had to lay off about 15 people."

"I've been in business 41 years," Buck said. "I'm not a guy who rolls the dice. I'm conservative."

Randy Busch, president of Value, told the Star-Telegram on Friday that the 26-employee company has been put "into a cash-flow crunch based on us purchasing raw materials that now don't have a home."

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