Bardia Pezeshki, one of just two directors in the private company Kaiam UK, joked and shared festive chat with workmates, without revealing the troubled firm had been hit with a compulsory striking off order by Companies House just days beforehand.
Two weeks later and the Livingston-based optical manufacturer plunged into administration leaving more than 330 stunned workers without a Christmas paypacket.
While his staff are set to assemble for a Christmas Eve mass meeting where they fear the worst for their futures, Mr Pezeshki has jetted off to his home in America to enjoy festivities with his family.
Meanwhile the community he left behind is now rallying round to help those in need. “There he is dancing at the party and then he buggers off to the US and buries his head just to get away from it all,” said father-of-two and Kaiam production operator Kevin Wells, 27.
“He was in the canteen the day before we went into administration acting the big man. The managers left behind have been getting pelters, but they’re in the same boat as us.”
“My kids are healthy, we’re healthy. It’ll take more than the Grinch to ruin my Christmas, but I know a guy who might have to sell his house.”
His pal Kenny Walker, 40, from Broxburn, told how staff had even signed up for unpaid holiday right up until being told to go home on Thursday.
“It’s absolutely devastating. We were doing the company a favour. I’m not able to pay child support.
“I’ve got payments on a brand new car I can’t make and I took a £1,000 payday loan out that’s due on the 28th.”
Visibly shocked families gathered yesterday at a community hub in Livingston set up by MP Hannah Bardell and volunteers to take donations for hard-up Kaiam families.
Tables were full of donated toys while food hampers were being laid on for workers and gift vouchers given by businesses.
“It’s an act of a coward,” said Ms Bardell. “To leave it to local managers who themselves are totally devastated. To leave staff not knowing if they get paid before Christmas or if they’ve got a job. We’re here so nobody goes without this Christmas. That’s why we’ve set this up.”
Kaiam worker Joanne Baxter, 53, was helping organise donations. “We’ve had people bring in presents they’ve wrapped for themselves – it’s so humbling.”
Kellie Brady, 37, from Polbeth, helped rally community support after posting on the West Lothian Women Facebook page. “It’s about giving them somewhere to come and talk as well because they were just standing in the rain outside the factory.”
Nine-year-old Cole Cowan, whose grandma works at Kaian, even dug into his own piggy bank to give £150.
He then scraped together another £10 when he found out families were being given £20 donations to make a round £160 and help save eight family Christmases.
“I felt bad for all the people,” said Cole. “I heard some had to pay their mortgage and their bank cards.”
Proud mum, Louise Partridge, 37, added: “He was so upset and he’s really kind-hearted kid.”
Full-time carer Debbie Harkness, 39, set up a Paypal group and was “blown away” with £800 donations in just 24 hours.
“I’ve been in their position, when I was pregnant. Sat there with a duvet wrapped around me with people giving me food,” she said.
Mr Pezeshki, meanwhile, is preparing to celebrate Christmas with family at his $3 million mansion in California.
“Building a company has taken a heavy toll on my personal life and family and I do not deserve this humiliation. I am not a Grinch,” he told a national newspaper.
Workers are expecting to hear today whether they will get December pay packet while administrators are trying to find a buyer.
Blair Nimmo, joint administrator and global head of insolvency at KPMG, said: “This is clearly very upsetting news for all of the staff, particularly at this time of year.
“Our first priority is to meet with the company’s employees and communicate what these administration appointments mean for them, which we are aiming to do on Monday.
“KEL has faced challenging trading conditions, which caused the business to experience acute cash flow pressure. Despite the action of the directors to try to increase sales and attract new investment, the business entered administration.
“We are exploring a sale of the business and are working with Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and West Lothian Council to provide a full range of support to the company’s employees as this process takes place. We would encourage any interested parties to contact us as soon as possible.”