Wurth files $2 million complaint against former Hermance officials
December 16, 2021 | 11:27 am CST
Hermance Machine

The facility that housed Hermance Machine, which was acquired by woodworking equipment distributor Wurth Baer earlier this year.  Wurth has filed a $2 million complaint against previous Hermance officials.

WILLIAMSPORT, Penn. – Würth Baer Supply Co. is accusing former officials of Hermance Machine Co., a company Wurth acquired earlier this year, of stealing proprietary and confidential information for personal gain.

According to a report on the Penn Live news website, Wurth is seeking more than $2 million in damages from Ian Strouse, former president of Hermance Machine Co., and Andrew Homsher, an IT specialist at the company. 

The website reported that a complaint was filed Wednesday, Nov. 10, in the U.S. Middle District Court claiming that Hermance’s sales were interfered with by hacking into the company’s database and altering the company’s social media presence to benefit Strouse’s new company, Highland Automation and Robotics, with which Homsher is associated.

Before the sale to Würth in March, Hermance created an entity with that name, with Strouse its sole member and registered agent. He also owned 5 percent of Hermance stock, the report said.

Würth claims Strouse objected to the deal negotiated by the majority stockholder and his father, Joseph G. Strouse, to sell the company.

According to Penn Live, the two men covertly misappropriated confidential information including salespeople’ notes and emails confirming payments that were stored on Hermance’s secure computer network. Following the downloading, the data was deleted from Hermance’s computers and storage.

Homsher is alleged to have deleted in June an email that would have revealed his “clandestine activity” and several folders from Hermance’s computer network and storage.

He also is accused of running a series of suspicious security and compliance searches on June 24, downloading a list of salespeople on June 28, and on July 2 – his last day working for Hermance – deleting emails he had moved to a deleted folder. For this activity, Wurth alleges that Homsher was paid $10,000 by Stouse, the report said. 

Würth accuses Strouse of interfering with a sales agreement with Nydree Flooring for nearly $1 million worth of machines.

Allegations in the complaint are that he called Hermance’s controller on July 21, three weeks after he left the company, demanding she terminate the order because the transaction now was being handled by Highland Automation. 

Nydree in August acknowledged Strouse had become involved and decided to stay with his new company and not Hermance, the suit states.

In April, Würth Baer CEO John Geraghty announced the acquisition, saying the strategic deal would “expand and solidify our woodworking machinery expertise under the Akins Machinery team. Adding Hermance’s high level of sales and technical expertise to our portfolio underscores our unwavering commitment to servicing the woodworking profession.”

At the time, Hermance offers a selection of new and used machinery from major manufacturers, servicing a 300-mile radius around central Pennsylvania. Inventory is housed in the company's 60,000-square-foot operation. Hermance offers clamps, CNC routers, dovetails, edgebander, saws, sanders, and other equipment.

The company distributes and services key brands including SCM Group, Anderson America, Gannomat, Cantek America, Doucet, Imperial Systems, MB, Cresswood, Nordfab, and Tigerstop.

Hermance's day-to-day management will combine with Würth Baer's Akins Machinery division. The Williamsport facility will also act as a Würth Baer distribution site.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).