PORT ANGELES — Magna Force is going out with a whimper.
The magnetic levitation company founded in Port Angeles in 1993 by secretive inventor Karl “Jerry” Lamb has abandoned three buildings it purchased from the Port of Port Angeles, defaulted on property leased from the port, and is closing its doors, port Executive Director Karen Goschen said Thursday.
The port on Jan. 4 issued a notice of default to the company for failure to pay $8,027 in back rent on port property at 2602 W. 18th St.
The delinquency covers November, December and January for rent that Lamb must pay by Monday “or the port will re-enter and take possession of the leased premises,” according to the notice.
“Jerry called the port Jan. 9 and stated that the company had to dissolve, that he was abandoning the property and had nothing further to say,” Goschen said.
“He would not leave his number.”
Lamb, who has refused to be interviewed for seven years, could not be reached Thursday for comment.
The phone number at Magna Force is a nonworking number.
According to the corporations division of the state Secretary of State’s Office, on Dec. 18, Jo Klinski of Sequim resigned as the company’s registered agent.
She listed Magna Force Inc. as the registered agent with the nonworking number as the contact for the company’s “principal office.”
A contact email in Secretary of State’s Office’s records bounces back with an “address not found” notification.
Klinski was listed in the records as the “authorized person” for Magna Force.
She could not be reached this week for comment.
Companies who incorporate in Washington state are required to have registered agents in case summonses need to be served on them, Sharon Baker of the corporations division said Thursday.
If a summons cannot be served, it is forwarded to the Secretary of State’s Office, she said.
“This is very disappointing,” port Commissioner Colleen McAleer said Thursday.
“There was just incredible promise for that technology, and it’s disappointing that it wasn’t able to be fulfilled.”
McAleer said port staff is consulting with its attorney, Simon Barnhart, on a course of action.
Magna Force owns three building totaling 6,900 square feet that it purchased from the port for $54,000 in 1996 that are on the land it leases from the port.
A Magna Force test track that Lamb had placed on the property has been removed.
The buildings contained equipment, furniture, supplies and trash, Goschen said.
“Because there is property that is abandoned, we will look to sell the proceeds we can collect from the abandoned property to satisfy what is owed us,” Goschen said.
Lamb, who turns 58 this year and refused in recent years to be photographed, worked at Rayonier for 14 years before establishing himself as an inventor of energy-saving, magnetic coupling devises that eliminate friction in pumps and motors.
Magna Force was incorporated in 1993 and was authorized in 1995 to sell 100,000 shares of common stock, according to state records.
In 1999, six years after he founded the company in his garage with $1,200 in savings, Magna Force was awarded a $2.1 million marketing contract by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.
The organization is comprised of 140 Northwest utilities and energy-efficiency organizations that work on behalf of more than 13 million energy consumers.
In 2002, Lamb demonstrated LEVX technology to then Gov. Gary Locke by levitating a Chevy Corvette a few millimeters above 40 feet of guide rails on the state Capitol grounds in Olympia.
In a 2003 interview, Lamb called LEVX technology “transportation for the 21st century.”
In October 2004, then-gubernatorial candidate Chris Gregoire rode the mag-lev system at the company’s port property during a campaign stop.
In 2004, Bellevue-based MagnaDrive Corp., which had exclusive rights to Lamb’s magnetic technology, was recognized by the accounting firm DeLoitte & Touche USA LLP as one of the nation’s fastest growing companies.
Lamb opened a new headquarters in downtown Port Angeles in 2011 in the former Bank of America building at 102 E. Front St.
“We have to have a place we can bring the world to,” he said at the time.
The building later closed, and the company began shedding employees.
MagnaDrive and Magna Force later became embroiled in a legal dispute.
The state Court of Appeals on Jan. 27, 2014, affirmed an arbitrator’s award of attorney fees to MagnaDrive against Magna Force and Synergy Green Tech Corp., a California company.
Magna Force was still developing magnet technologies at the time, including adjustable speed coupling systems and fixed gap couplings, according to the ruling.
The arbitration had been ordered in a King County Superior Court ruling.
In 1999, six years after Lamb founded Magna Force, MagnaDrive and Magna Force signed a license agreement that allowed MagnaDrive to “commercialize and exploit” patent rights and coupling-system technology, according to the ruling.
The dispute centered on Magna Force purportedly assigning interest in the license agreement to Synergy, which then threatened to terminate the license agreement on the grounds that MagnaDrive had breached its agreement with Magna Force.
MagnaDrive challenged Magna Force’s assigning interest to Synergy.
The arbitrator ruled in favor of MagnaDrive and voided Magna Force’s agreement with Synergy.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].