Columbus' best and worst contractors of 2008
by Liz Vernon
In addition to our nationwide list, here are the Columbus contractors who have earned the distinction of being the Best or Worst in the Columbus area.
Lance’s Hidden Fencing
When Donn Young, of Columbus, wanted a hidden fence for his dog, his daughter suggested Lance’s Hidden Fencing. “She said what really makes Lance [Sinkowski, the owner] is his personality and how his love for animals comes first,” Young says. “He was just wonderful.” Sinkowski has ran his company for almost three years, but he’s been training dogs since 2001. “I want the training to be as thorough and safe as possible,” he says. “It’s a conditioning process — you start slow and give the dog a chance to learn the boundaries.”
Young, who’s only one of many happy customers, says his dog picked up the training without any trouble. “The way Lance works with both dogs and people is just truly outstanding. It makes me wish I had another dog or needed more fences, just so I could call him back.”
Accurate Locksmith & Security
Alex Klezli started his career in the locksmith industry in 1988 when he worked at a lock shop and as a distributor for a locksmith supply company. In 2004, he started Accurate Locksmith & Security.
But he hasn’t forgotten what he learned in the first years — in fact, he says it gives him an edge. “I learned about locks and parts and met some manufacturers. I truly believe in educating my customers, so [my background] helps in what I do.”
A typical customer is Dawn Stubbs of Dublin, who’s hired the company twice and not only appreciated the work Klezli did, but also what he taught her in the process. “When I thought I broke my key in the lock, he installed a deadbolt, saying it was a better safety measure. He also educated me about using silicone spray to keep the lock clean and keep ice from freezing in it.”
When Klezli put a new handle on Stubbs’ front door, he offered to take off the old hardware, paint the door and reinstall the handle. “He’s very personable,” she says. “He interacts well and really educates his clients. I was thinking of getting a storm door, and he gave me some advice.”
Klezli goes above and beyond in many other ways, too, from being nice to customers’ pets — a couple of Angie’s List members praised him for being nice to their dog — to donating and installing hardware at a library in West Virginia.
He says teaching his customers is important to him, too. “Educating a customer lets them know you’re being honest. I let them ask questions.”
Avi Gabbay had been doing computer work for friends and family for several years. A couple of years ago, he turned his hobby into a business by starting his computer company, PSeeSolutions.
He says his philosophy is not only to fix a customer’s computer, but to make sure the customer is happy. “Fixing the problem is the first priority, but we don’t charge the customer until the problem is fixed,” says Gabbay, who recently volunteered with the “Lend a Hand, Touch a Heart” program. “I think that’s what makes them repeat customers.”
Jen Sauter of Westerville is just one of those repeat customers and calls Gabbay “my main computer guy.” She has three computers in her home and has relied on PSeeSolutions for more than a year. “[Avi] cares, and he’s personable and knowledgeable,” Sauter says. “He makes himself available with instant house calls, and it’s so convenient. He goes above and beyond.”
Supreme Remodeling Concepts
Steve Hutchison wanted a sunroom and a privacy fence. When he learned about Supreme Remodeling Concepts, he thought he’d found the perfect contractor for the project.
“They seemed like they had pretty good prices, so I called them,” Hutchison says. “It was supposed to be about $14,000. I put $3,000 down. They wanted it all, but I wouldn’t give it to them.”
Hutchison says the company never started the job.
Customers have logged four complaints about Worthington-based Supreme Remodeling Concepts with the Ohio attorney general’s office. Owner Daniel Sechriest also owns Mastergard/Masterguard/Supreme Remodeling in Columbus, which has received more than 70 complaints. In November, the office filed a preliminary injunction against Sechriest doing business as any of these companies. It also is seeking a civil penalty of $25,000 per violation and full restitution for the victims. Both companies have unsatisfactory ratings and numerous complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Phones for the companies have been disconnected.
Peterson Home Improvement LLC
Mike Gray, an Angie’s List member in Dublin, hired Peterson Home Improvement to finish his basement. The work was supposed to begin in April and take four or five weeks. In August, Gray says, it still wasn’t finished. “I’ve had to get other estimates for people to finish the work, and most don’t want to,” Gray says. “They want to start from scratch.” Peterson Home Improvement had a good track record on Angie’s List until last April, when it started to receive a string of negative reports and landed in the Penalty Box three times. At press time, customers had filed eight complaints with the Ohio attorney general’s office, and the company had an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB. Michelle Gatchell, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, says the office hadn’t filed any lawsuits against the company. “We’re working to mediate between consumers who have complained and this company,” she says. Gray says she has since hired another contractor. “They completely gutted [everything],” Gray says. “They’re starting fresh.” In an e-mail to Angie’s List Magazine, owner Scott Peterson says the company is no longer in business and directed questions to his attorney, who didn’t respond to our call seeking comment.
The Concrete Crew Co.
Sandee Andes says she should’ve seen red flags when The Concrete Crew knocked on her front door and offered to install a patio.
“They gave me a quote of $7,000 and a starting date,” says Andes, of Pataskala. She gave them a down payment of $2,500, but the company never showed. Andes was eventually given another start date. “They dug up the backyard with a backhoe where the patio would be,” she says. “They left and didn’t come back for about a week. This went on all summer.”
Andes’ story has a happy ending — another contractor installed her patio and she got her $2,500 back. “I took every avenue I knew to take,” she says. That included, she says, contacting the parents of the company’s owner, Dennis Ranke Jr., whose mother eventually wrote Andes a check.
In February, the Ohio attorney general’s office, which had received numerous complaints about The Concrete Crew, filed a lawsuit against the company and Ranke Jr., who has also done business as The Columbus Construction Crew LLC. The next step will be a hearing for damages, says attorney general spokeswoman Manilath Southammavong.
Both companies have a total overall grade of “F” on the List and an unsatisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau. It landed in the Penalty Box in late 2007. Phone numbers for the companies have been disconnected.