Cincinnati area's best and worst contractors of 2008
by Joshua Palmer and Paul F.P. Pogue
In addition to our nationwide list, here are the Cincinnati contractors who have earned the distinction of being the Best or Worst in the Cincinnati area.
Wildlife Removal Services
When West Chester resident Beth Beerman heard a flapping noise coming from her chimney on a Sunday afternoon, she needed a quick solution. “My 2- and 4-year-old daughters were extremely scared,” Beerman says. She called Wildlife Removal Services owner John Ware, who arrived a few hours later to set a small bird free and install new chimney caps. “He really cared and wanted to make sure my girls knew the bird was fine and happy,” Beerman says.
In business for more than 15 years, Ware knows a thing or two about customer satisfaction — his company has earned the Super Service Award for two consecutive years. “I try to do everything I can do so, when I leave, the customer’s happy,” Ware says.
Concrete Lifting USA
Fort Mitchell, Ky.
Andrea Holland of Covington, Ky., says her options were limited when she was weighing whether to repair or replace her cracked and sinking porch and sidewalk. “The companies who looked at it said it couldn’t be fixed or it’d cost close to $1,000,” Holland says. She says she made the right decision when she hired Concrete Lifting USA, which corrected the problem for $375. “They had a positive outlook about the project’s scope, and they lived up to their word and did great work,” Holland says.
Owner Dave Vollman says running his business for 18 years has taught him one valuable lesson: “You do what you say you’re going to do, you do it right, and you do it like it’s for your next-door neighbor.”
After interviewing two other companies for a roofing job, Rebecca Balish of Oxford looked no further after meeting with Nick Rakel, owner of Revolution Remodeling. “He gave me a fair estimate for a big job, and the feeling of confidence he gave me with his knowledgeable answers to my questions far outweighed saving a little bit of money,” Balish says.
Angie’s List members who have hired Revolution Remodeling to perform roofing, siding and full-line home remodeling work agree: their professionalism, expertise and responsiveness make them worthy of multiple Pages of Happiness nominations. Rakel formed the company three years ago with one goal in mind: “We try to be honest and up-front,” he says. Because of this, many members say they’ll hire the company again. “It just was a total pleasure to work with them from start to finish,” Balish says. “The peace of mind from knowing you have a great company is invaluable.”
After receiving more than 20 consumer complaints, the Ohio attorney general is suing Gutter Champ of West Chester. The suit alleges Gutter Champ and owners Paul Wermeling, P.J. Schooley and Zachary Woodruff pressured clients into high-interest loans instead of their promised same-as-cash rates, were verbally abusive with customers and failed to do work after accepting down payments.
Laverne Davis of Dayton says she paid them a $1,000 deposit to replace her gutters, but they never showed for work and made excuses. “They’d go for weeks without calling me back and then ask for more money,” she says.
The phone numbers for Gutter Champ and Wermeling are disconnected. Woodruff did not return our calls.
A spokesperson for the attorney general says Gutter Champ never responded to the original filing, so they’re now asking the company to pay a $25,000 penalty.
In 2008, three-time con man Mark Gray served the first of seven years behind bars for bilking 13 customers out of $70,000 in home repair scams. Gray, who did business as Cincy Construction, pleaded guilty to 13 criminal charges of theft and one charge of workers' compensation fraud. A Hamilton County judge sentenced him to seven years in jail. He had served prison terms in 2001 and 2003 for similar crimes.
Prosecutors and victims say Gray would lure customers by doing small jobs first, then get payment in advance for a large job he would leave unfinished. Rita Albrecht of Cincinnati lost $3,500 when she paid Gray up front to replace her driveway. “He tore it all out and wouldn’t come back,” Albrecht says. “He left me high and dry.”
Gray’s attorney, Bradley Fox, says Gray is remorseful. “He accepted responsibility and was willing to do his time in prison,” Fox says.
But some customers say that’s little comfort. “He told the court he didn’t have any money, but what did he do with the money he embezzled from everybody?” Albrecht says. “I guess I’m too darn trusting. People really have to be careful who they hire.”
Breeze Carpet & Ventilation Cleaning
Angie’s List member Christine Allen received a $49 coupon in the mail from Sharonville-based Breeze Carpet & Ventilation Cleaning that promised an air-duct cleaning of her entire house. But when she hired them, she says they hiked the price to $284. “They were only here for an hour, and all they used was a large Shop-Vac,” Allen says. She’s one of several Angie’s List members who submitted similar complaints.
Both Angie’s List and the BBB have issued an alert. “We received 38 complaints [about Breeze] for false advertising, overcharging and poor workmanship,” says Jocile Ehrlich, president and CEO of the BBB serving southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana. Ehrlich says the BBB conducted its own investigation in 2008, hiring Breeze to work on a test house. When the BBB refused Breeze’s attempt to hike the price, she says the company did the $49 cleaning but didn’t remove spots or stains.
Ehrlich says mail sent to Breeze’s address has been returned. The company’s two phone numbers are disconnected, and registered agent Andrew Kaczmarowski and owner Charles Cohen couldn’t be reached for comment.