Agribusiness  February 3, 2021

Peak Serum removes founder as company moves toward sale

WELLINGTON — Biologics maker Peak Serum Inc. has promoted a new CEO to replace its founder and owner as a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee prepares to sell the company.

In a statement from the Wellington company Tuesday, the U.S. bankruptcy trustee in charge of the company’s case ordered that Thomas Kutrubes be removed from the firm. Michael Dodge, the company’s current global sales director, was selected as interim CEO.

Kutrubes is the founder and full owner of Peak Serum, which develops fetal bovine serum, a compound derived from cow fetuses and a byproduct in meatpacking. The substance is widely used in biological research to start cell cultures.

The company had revenues of more than $2.8 million in its 2018 fiscal year, and Kutrubes was named to BizWest’s Northern Colorado 40 Under Forty class in 2019.

However, Kutrubes was sued in 2018 by his former employer Atlas Biologicals Inc., which claimed that he stole trade secrets and tried to poach clients for Peak, which he later formed as a competing company.

A federal judge ruled in favor of Atlas and ordered Kutrubes and Peak to pay just more than $2.35 million in restitution and legal fees, and banned the company from using the information Kutrubes acquired during his time with Atlas. He later appealed that ruling to a higher court, where oral arguments were held last month.

In his latest bankruptcy filing from late last year, Kutrubes reported making $248,500 in salary from Peak but reported a substantially similar figure in debts to Atlas, presumably because he has been under bankruptcy protections while appealing the judgment.

He reported a total of just more than $3.6 million in liabilities and claims to have a 7% ownership stake in Atlas stemming from his time there.

Jay Roderick, the trustee in charge of Peak’s bankruptcy, told BizWest that the company is on solid financial footing, and his decision to remove Kutrubes was not due to the ongoing litigation with Atlas.

Instead, Roderick said he observed several behaviors from Kutrubes over the past month since his appointment that brought up questions of integrity. Specifically, Roderick said Kutrubes had overstated his level of leadership over the current staff. He also said details in financial audits were misrepresented.

“I think he is just simply making bad decisions as a leader,” Roderick said. “I think that [in] his interactions with me, he proved to me that even though the company is operating fine, he does not appear to be integral in everything.”

As trustee in the case, Roderick has full authority to make changes at the company. He said the goal is to sell Peak to pay creditors, and he intends to start accepting bids from interested buyers within the next six months.

Kutrubes did not respond to messages to his listed phone number Wednesday requesting comment. Aaron Garber and Kevin Ward, the attorneys representing Kutrubes in his bankruptcy and appeals cases, respectively, did not respond to requests for comment.

WELLINGTON — Biologics maker Peak Serum Inc. has promoted a new CEO to replace its founder and owner as a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee prepares to sell the company.

In a statement from the Wellington company Tuesday, the U.S. bankruptcy trustee in charge of the company’s case ordered that Thomas Kutrubes be removed from the firm. Michael Dodge, the company’s current global sales director, was selected as interim CEO.

Kutrubes is the founder and full owner of Peak Serum, which develops fetal bovine serum, a compound derived from cow fetuses and a byproduct in meatpacking. The substance…

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