Lance Chandler is a key figure to the failure of Columbia Sportswear's Omni - Heat. In March of 2007, Columbia Sportswear inexplicably broke off talks with Innovative Sports, in regard to cobranding the Innovative Sports heating system, after having committed to make two different jacket models with Innovative Sports just three weeks before, and after three years of protective discussions with Innovative Sports under the Innovative Sports NDA. At the final meeting Innovative Sport's Chairman Colby Taylor had with Woody Blackford and several other Columbia executives at Columbia Sportswear headquarters in February in 2007, and in a follow up email to Doug Prentice of Columbia, Taylor had described to the group the new single piece heating element which Innovative Sports had designed but had not put into production by that time.
Six months later, in late 2007, a man named Lance Chandler directly contacted Taylor and solicited the services of Innovative Sports to build heating systems for Chandler's company, NCS Electronics, of which Chandler was the CTO of as well as the majority share holder. Taylor had never spoken to Chandler before Chandler reached out to Taylor at the end of 2007. Chandler signed the Innovative Sports NDA as well, right after meeting Taylor in 2007, so he could view the full buffet of heating technologies that Innovative Sports could provide. Taylor then shared them all with Chandler.
Chandler represented to Taylor right from the start, that NCS serviced two US companies with LED modules for products which those company's then produced. The first company was Jet Lites, a US bicycle light manufacturer, and the second company was Aladdin Lamp and Mantel Company, who built a variety of lamps, and had an LED camping lamp which Chandler and NCS provided the LED modules for. NCS also provided the LED modules for the Jet Lites bicycle lights. Chandler told Taylor that NCS wished to hire Innovative Sports to consult with NCS, Jet Lites, and Aladdin, on building wearable heating systems for products for both companies. Chandler represented that Jet Lites wanted to create a battery heated glove for bicyclists, and that Aladdin wanted to create a battery heated vest for camping enthusiasts. Both companies wanted to use Innovative Sports heating systems in their designs.
Taylor and Innovative Sports agreed to consult and build the heating systems for Jet Lites and Aladdin. Taylor then went to work on designing these heating systems personally, and that work was completed by mid October of 2007. For this development effort, Taylor also produced the single piece heating element with no connecting wires for the Aladdin heated vest. This was the same single piece element which Taylor had informed Columbia was set to go into production in early 2007, but that Columbia had never been able to see because they had broken off talks of their own accord before production began of the element that year by Innovative Sports for Aladdin.
When Taylor provided the first several hundred heated glove and single piece jacket heating elements to NCS for Jet Lites and Aladdin to build test products with, Lance Chandler disappeared with all of them. Owners and executives at both Jet Lites and Aladdin contacted Taylor directly to inquire as to where their heating systems were, or where Chandler had gone, but no one had an answer. Chandler simply went into hiding and disappeared with the technologies. Chandler's last statements to Taylor included that Chandler was going to show the technologies to a possible new "investor" at a presentation Chandler was to do at Windhaven Horse Rescue. (See $10,000,000 payoff page)
Taylor and Innovative Sports Vice President Scott Freeman then began their own investigation into the matter after Chandler had disappeared, and learned from NCS CEO Brian Warf that Lance Chandler had been sharing the technologies that Taylor had provided to NCS for Jet Lites and Aladdin with his friend Woody Blackford from Columbia. Warf confided in Taylor and Freeman that Blackford was the one who had directed Chandler to contact Taylor initially, specifically so he could gain access to the single piece jacket element design which Taylor had completed. Warf also showed Taylor and Freeman documents showing development work going on between Chandler and Blackford in secret, for heated gloves and a heated vest, using the heating elements Taylor had provided to NCS for Jet Lites and Aladdin.
Warf also told Taylor and Freeman that he had witnessed Blackford in NCS labs, walking out the door with boxes of both the heated glove and single piece heated jacket elements, to take them back to Columbia for further review, and that he was certain Blackford was aware that the elements had been produced by Innovative Sports, because he had heard Chandler and Blackford discuss the matter. Warf also disclosed to Taylor and Freeman that Blackford had actually called Warf on the phone after he had taken the elements back to Columbia, and had informed Warf that he had taken them to China to try to get them replicated or produced at a cheaper price. Shortly after Warf had shared these misappropriations by Blackford and Chandler with Taylor and Freeman, he then resigned his position of CEO of NCS in disgust.
Armed with this knowledge, Taylor and Freeman contacted Blackford at Columbia headquarters and demanded a meeting to recover the heating elements. Blackford agreed to meet with Taylor and Freeman in the first days of 2008, but made them wait three days before he said he could take the meeting. When the meeting occurred three days later, Blackford met with Taylor and Freeman at Columbia headquarters, and Columbia attorney John Motley was also present with another Columbia in house lawyer. Unbelievably, Blackford had the glove and single piece jacket heating elements in his possession and turned them over to Taylor and Freeman at the meeting, but claimed total innocence, and said that Chandler had represented to Blackford that the elements were an NCS product.
Taylor then informed Blackford of his conversations with Warf, and his knowledge of Blackford's activities at NCS with Chandler. The meeting ended shortly after, with Taylor warning Blackford and the attorneys, including John Motley, that if Columbia was to produce a system using the technologies, that Innovative Sports would view it as a breach of the NDA and would litigate. Taylor also made it clear that Chandler had also breached the Innovative Sports NDA, and that it appeared to him that Columbia and Blackford had already breached the NDA as well. Two days later, Taylor was informed by his conductive fibers supplier that Blackford had personally contacted them, and inquired about getting their materials. The supplier forwarded the email Blackford had sent to them to Taylor, and told Taylor to tell Columbia that if they wanted to get their materials, they would have to get them from Innovative Sports. Columbia refused to work with Innovative Sports however after this notification. Taylor also never heard from Chandler again after Chandler had disappeared with the heating elements at the end of 2007.
In 2012, Innovative Sports filed suit against Columbia regarding these matters after Columbia launched Omni-Heat, additionally naming NCS as a codefendant, and Chandler as Columbia's mole. After the suit was filed, Columbia's only defense to the claims was to deny the existence of the singed NDA's, and Columbia also demanded a meeting between the parties to discuss the merits of the case in advance of any court hearing occurring in the case. Innovative Sports agreed to the meeting, and Taylor, Freeman, and two other Innovative Sports executives met with members of Columbia Sportswear's legal team at Stoll Berne lawfirm's offices in Portland, OR, along with Innovative Sports' legal representatives from Edelson McGuire lawfirm of Chicago, on May 29th, 2012. Columbia attorney John Motley, who had been in the meeting when Taylor and Freeman had recovered the heating elements from Blackford at Columbia headquarters, was also present for the meeting. Additionally, attorneys from Schwabe Williamson and Wyatt were present on behalf of NCS.
Stoll Berne attorney Tim DeJong, accused Taylor at the start meeting of fabricating the entire story and the claims made in the filed lawsuit as an attempting to smear Columbia. When members of Edelson McGuire contested those claims, and produced the original signed NDA's by Columbia executives and Lance Chandler for DeJong, DeJong abruptly ended the meeting after less than 10 minutes, and attempted to recover a binder hand out he had provided to all of the meeting's attendees at the start of the meeting, which contained Columbia's view of the case. When Jay Eldelson, Chairman of Edelson McGuire, refused to return the document, Dejong became enraged and stormed around the boardroom table to attack Edelson physically, and when he did, the Business Chair from Edelson McGuire, Rafe Balabanian, attempted to block DeJong, and a skirmish broke out between the attorneys in the room. Taylor, Freeman, and the rest of the Innovative Sports executives remained in their seats and did not participate in the altercation. Then the managing shareholder of Stoll Berne, Keith Ketterling, threated all members present from Innovative Sports and Edelson McGuire that he would call the police and have them arrested for trespass if they did not leave the offices immediately. This was even though nobody from Innovative Sports or Edelson McGuire had done anything other than be attacked by Tim DeJong. After this threat was made by Ketterling, Taylor and his staff left the Stoll Burne offices without incident.
A few days later, before Chandler could be deposed for the lawsuit or give any statement in the case, on June 2nd, 2012, Chandler's dead body was discovered at the bottom of bridge in a deep ravine near Mt. St. Helens in WA, on state Highway 504 between Woodland and Cougar, near mile post 39. www.kptv.com/story/18686383/mystery-surrounds-death-of-man-found-under-bridge
Immediately after Chandler's body was discovered, attorney's for Columbia and NCS contacted the Cowlitz County Sheriff's offices and told them that Taylor had murdered Chandler, even though Taylor had no criminal record, and Chandler's death did nothing but hurt Taylor's chances at proving Columbia's and Blackford's crimes in court. An investigation into Taylor's involvement in Chandler's death turned up nothing, and Taylor had a verifiable alibi as he was at a Memorial Day Weekend wedding in 2012, where he stayed with more than ten people for three days. Taylor was then cleared of all suspicion in Chandler's death, but investigators then became very suspicious of Columbia. Taylor maintains to this day that Columbia had Chandler murdered, and that Blackford and other Columbia executives and owners were directly involved. Columbia's accusations to authorities of Taylor's involvement in Chandler's death show as much, coupled with the $10,000,000 Columbia was accused of paying Chandler for acting as their mole, in a Federal Lawsuit filed by the CEO of NCS Bob Bury, who succeeded Brian Warf after he resigned from NCS. Bury had never met or communicated with Taylor in any way before he filed his Federal Lawsuit in Western Washington, the same week Chandler was found dead in June of 2012 (See $10,000,000 payoff page).