Atlanta roofing contractor swoops to the rescue
by Nick McLain
After allegedly being ripped off by one local roofing company, Kelli and David Stout of Lawrenceville [Ga.] say highly rated GHIR Roofing owner Eric Gilbert not only restored their storm-damaged roof but also their faith in contractors.
"If we dealt with one of the worst contractors in 2010, we also dealt with the best, too," Kelli says of Gilbert, who went out of his way to make sure they had a roof over their heads in time for Christmas.
The Stouts' ordeal started in March 2010 when they hired Cumming-based Southeastern Roofing & Restoration - named one of Atlanta's Worst Contractors in the January issue of Angie's List Magazine - to repair their roof.
After handing over a $6,500 check the Stouts received from their insurance company, she says Southeastern delayed the job, then stopped returning phone calls. "Then we got a notice in the mail that John Ervin [the owner] had filed for bankruptcy," Kelli says.
Dozens of metro area homeowners, including the Stouts, lost thousands of dollars to Ervin, who took their money but never did any work, according to court documents. Southeastern's bankruptcy filing listed $356,667 in debts and no assets; the bankruptcy resulted in the company's dissolution.
Shawn Conroy, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection, says at least 21 warrants have been issued for Ervin's arrest in Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee and Hall counties. He also was arrested last year on theft charges in Forsyth and Barrow counties. He most recently bonded out of the Cherokee County jail in January. No trial dates have been set in any of the cases.
Meanwhile, the leaks in the Stouts' roof worsened, and they had no way to pay another roofer. "Water was rolling down into our bedroom," Kelli says. "It was awful. I had to rearrange the bed so water wasn't falling on it. I was begging the drywall not to fall."
After a local news station reported on the Stouts' predicament, GHIR Roofing's marketing director Rodney Reid asked Gilbert to help them. He agreed, Gilbert says, partly as a way to improve the roofing industry's reputation, which has been sullied by bad contractors like Ervin. "It really upsets me," Gilbert says. "It makes it harder for honest contractors."
Gilbert promised the Stouts they'd have a new roof by Christmas, which was only a week away. He says Atlas Roofing Corp. in Hampton [Ga.], not yet rated on the List, agreed to donate the roofing shingles. "We're always open to helping somebody out if we can," says Dustin Davidson, Atlas plant manager at the Hampton location.
On Christmas Eve, Gilbert and his Lawrenceville-based company installed the Stouts' new roof.
"This was one of the best things we've ever done," Reid says with proud admiration for his boss and the company. "It was a great way to start Christmas off, to be able to be Santa Claus to a degree."
The Stouts remain incredibly grateful. "Eric Gilbert did so much legwork and really went above and beyond to make it happen," Kelli says. "This is the most wonderful thing we could have hoped for."
And the new roof came just in time, as it snowed the next day. "We had a white Christmas, but we had a new roof, so I had no worries," Kelli says.