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    Onvance Retreats

    Upstart company reportedly files Chapter 7 bankruptcy, lays off entire work force.

    ATLANTA -- As they continued to work their booth at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) trade show in Orlando, Fla., employees at Onvance, a video marketing firm, were given the abrupt message to halt all activities.

    In a surprising move, the marketing service company, founded by Crown Central Petroleum Inc. and five other convenience store/petroleum concerns, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, terminating all employees and discontinuing services at more than 500 convenience stores in the United States and Canada.

    "We were told last week that they were moving toward Chapter 7, but they also sent us discs to distribute here at the [NACS] show," one employee told CSNews Online.

    The filing comes two months after Onvance officials acknowledged they were in the midst of Chapter 11 restructuring. In August, Onvance President and COO Alan Slothower told CSNews Online, "We have the same ambitious plans to help retailers improve their businesses. We are moving forward and not looking back."

    Slothower was unavailable for comment Thursday.

    Onvance sold and produced in-store video advertising broadcasted at stores. Slothower, a former official at Crown, confidently predicted that the company's technology would penetrate much of the c-store segment. Onvance had entered into talks with potential investors but was unable to attract additional capital, sources said.

    However, those same sources indicated that Crown and other founding members hoped to implement a similar technology. "The technology is good. We think it still has some legs. We just ran out of money," said one Onvance source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    In addition to Crown, Onvance's founders included Conoco Oil, Irving Oil ltd., Suncor Energy, Tesoro Petroleum Corp. and Warren Equities Inc.'s Xtramart Convenience Stores.

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