Indianapolis Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

Indianapolis Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013.

Indianapolis Best Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Lisa Renze-Rhodes



PlayPals Pet Care | Indianapolis

Kyla Hamilton, owner of PlayPals, plays catch with Lola, a 3-year-old golden retriever at a client's home in the Meridian Kessler neighborhood. (Photo by Brandon Smith)
  • Charity work or cummunity awards
  • Praised for pet friendliness
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Puppy kisses and wagging tails fill Kyla Hamilton’s days. As the owner of PlayPals Pet Care, Hamilton spends her working hours walking dogs, making home visits to check on and feed pets, and taking pooches to parks for playtime. She calls it the best job she’s ever had. “It’s an amazing feeling to get to do what I think is my calling,” says Hamilton, who was also named a Best Contractor in 2012.

Hamilton, who employs two independent contractors, provides vacation visits for some of her clients’ pets and regular midday breaks for others. She walks Emmy, a Chihuahua-mix belonging to Traders Point member Dean Hackett, twice a day. “What I like about Kyla is she’s a fabulous communicator,” Hackett says. “I can reach her in text, email, over the phone — she will respond accurately and quickly.” But seeing his dog react to Hamilton proves the true test. “There is nothing but wiggle butts and licks,” he says.

When not working, Hamilton helps find lost pets through her social networks, and volunteers at FACE, a low-cost spay and neuter clinic. “It’s just a joy,” says Hamilton, who received 13 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year and doesn’t need a license. “I’m forever grateful.”


Mike Puckett Realtor | Indianapolis

Realtor Mike Puckett says personal attention and one-on-one guidance is a cornerstone of the service he provides. (Photo courtesy Mike Puckett)
  • Charity work or cummunity awards
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Shawn McPartland says there’s one reason his Carmel home sold in two days: Mike Puckett. “One of the things that separated Mike from the pack, and we interviewed a number of Realtors, is the great presentation he made on MLS (Multiple Listing Service),” McPartland says. Puckett hired a professional photographer to take appealing photos, included zippy, informative text about the home’s features, and provided old-fashioned customer service, McPartland says. “In those two days, we had 12 showings, and an offer, which we accepted,” he says.

Puckett, a licensed broker and three-time Angie’s List Super Service Award winner, received 15 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year. “I like the idea that I feel like I’m helping somebody,” he says. “I like to make sure people don’t make mistakes, to help people avoid mistakes.” When his client load is maxed out, the three-time Best Contractor refers would-be customers to other real estate agents so he won’t jeopardize his winning formula of straightforward hands-on service. “It’s just me,” Puckett says. “If you’re buying a house, I’m the one showing it. When the inspection comes along, I’m going to be asking the seller for the things you need at the inspection. I’m doing everything myself.”

At times, he says, he finds himself counseling buyers about the kind of home they really want. “You don’t want someone to get into a house if they can’t afford it, and you don’t want them to get into a house that they can’t resell,” he says, adding that he often asks buyers to clearly articulate what they hope to find in a new home. For instance, someone with no interest in or budget for landscaping should avoid a big yard, Puckett says.

When not busy with his business, Puckett volunteers with Traders Point Church of Christ. He describes his bottom-line formula for work and life as simple. “I believe it’s the responsibility of a Christian to do good works,” he says. “If I’m selling real estate and we have to ride around together all day in a car, I want to have some fun. By the time we come out of this, I’m going to have a new friend.”


Starks Plumbing Service | Indianapolis

Bob [left] and Steve Starks carry on the tradition of service started by their father and grandfather in 1954. (Photo by Brandon Smith)
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Long before they could drive or date, Bob and Steve Starks accompanied their father on plumbing calls. “We’ve been doing it since we were little bitty kids,” Steve Starks says. “We come from a family of fun people, love being around other people and to make them happy.”

Since Starks Plumbing took root nearly 60 years ago, that’s been the mantra for the five-time Super Service Award winning company. “When you call, you’re going to get one of the owners,” says Steve Starks, a licensed plumber. Unwilling to sacrifice service for business, if one of the two owners can’t personally work a job, Starks says, they’ll refer the client elsewhere. Starks earned 14 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year.

Southport member Cheryl Lee says the service keeps her using Starks
for jobs like repairing her outdoor water spigots. “[Starks] was able to do the work in a timely manner, very professional and courteous,” she says.


Animal Management Systems | Noblesville

Owner Cory McClung (center) and his techs pose with company mascot, Oliver, a goldendoodle that accompanies him on calls. (Photo by Brandon Smith)
  • Charity work or cummunity awards
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

With his trusty partner Oliver the goldendoodle, Cory McClung sets out each day to rid homes of things that go bump in the night, such as bats, raccoons and more. Valerie Eaglin hired McClung to remove raccoons from her attic after they wreaked havoc on her home’s insulation. McClung, a licensed wildlife removal specialist, removed the pests, sealed their entry, then cleaned up. “I had no idea they had caused so much damage,” the Westside Indianapolis member says. “I trusted Cory to fix it from the get-go.”

McClung, a seven-time Super Service Award winner who received 16 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year, says he loves helping people fix unusual problems. “You can’t work with wildlife and not have respect for it,” he says. “It’s great.”

More Best Contractors

Here are some more Best Contractors who made this year’s cut based on their awesome track record for local service. Read their reviews on angieslist.com to learn why members think they’re so special.

2013 Best & Worst Contractors

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013. Did your contractor make the list? Select a market to the best and worst in your area.

Indianapolis Worst Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Lisa Renze-Rhodes

Spaulding’s Tree Experts | Indianapolis

Steve Spauding (Photo courtesy of Marion County Sheriff's Department)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced criminal charges
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile

Ending a 2013 lawsuit, a Marion County Superior Court judge last week ordered Spaulding's Tree Experts and its owner Steve Spaulding to pay fines and restitution totaling $206,182 for allegedly scamming three elderly victims.

The Indiana attorney general filed suit in September, claiming Spaulding violated state consumer laws by convincing an elderly man suffering from dementia to sign contracts and pay thousands of dollars for very little work, according to Marion County court records. Under the state's Senior Consumer Protection Act, Spaulding must pay triple damages for exploiting residents aged 60 or older.

The AG suit said Spaulding approached a 93-year-old Indianapolis homeowner and his daughter inquiring about possible work on the property. The AG alleges the daughter declined the solicitation, but Spaulding later returned when her father, who suffers from dementia, was home alone and convinced him to sign contracts totaling $6,000, $7,500 and $1,500, respectively. The AG further alleges Spaulding intimidated the two into paying $7,500 via a check made out personally to Spaulding, court documents show. According to the complaint, Spaulding cashed the check immediately and did little work on the property.

Carmel member Marilyn Marshall says Spaulding convinced her husband, Edwin, who has Alzheimer’s disease, to sign a $1,400 contract for work. “I was so furious,” Marshall says, “How can you make a contract with someone who has memory loss?” She says Spaulding and his employees proceeded to cut down some limbs, many from a small decorative tree she says the couple could’ve easily trimmed themselves. Marshall says she reluctantly paid the bill. “I didn’t want somebody to come out here and damage the house, so I went ahead and wrote the check.” She filed one of the six F reviews the company has on Angie’s List.

In addition to the AG suit, Spaulding has civil judgments filed against him from individuals and companies totaling more than $6,000 in Hamilton and Marion counties, with about $2,500 remaining unpaid as of press time, court records show. The company has a B rating on Angie’s List, but it’s excluded from category and keyword searches due to the lawsuit filed by the AG.

Spaulding was convicted of being a habitual substance offender in 2010, along with other felony drug charges, and received a three-year sentence of which he served two years, according to Marion County court documents and officials. Calls to a Spaulding’s Tree Experts number were answered, but the responder immediately hung up when asked if Steve Spaulding was available for comment.

Patriot Restoration of New Castle | New Castle

Richard Moghadam (Photo courtesy of Butler County, Ohio, Sheriff's Department)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Landed in the Penalty Box
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile

Patriot Restoration owners Richard Moghadam and Jennifer Collier owed more than a half million dollars in fines and restitution at press time after a judge in 2013 ruled in favor of the Indiana AG, who filed a suit accusing the two of violating state consumer laws, according to court documents. The AG sued F-rated Patriot on behalf of 53 consumers, 23 of whom are from Indianapolis, who the AG says paid Patriot for work that was completed poorly or not at all. According to Henry County (Ind.) Circuit Court records, police in Ohio arrested Moghadam in connection with the AG suit before transferring him back to jail in Indiana.

Indianapolis member James Vangorder, who filed one of the seven F reviews on Patriot, says he hired the company to repair hail damage to his home after receiving a knock on his door. Vangorder says his insurer paid Patriot nearly $5,900, but Patriot delayed the start date, first blaming a late inspector and then a death in Moghadam’s family. Finally, Vangorder says, his calls went unanswered. “Dummy me. The house insurance agent sent me the check and I called Patriot and they came out right away and got it,” Vangorder says, adding his roof remains damaged since he couldn’t make a second claim. The company remains in the Penalty Box for failing to participate in the Angie’s List complaint resolution process after member Kim Kirk complained they took $4,000 for a new roof, but never did any work.

Patriot’s attorney, Greg Miller, says his clients are victims in this situation because they hired James A. Martin III, who Miller says presented himself as a lawyer and offered to run the office while Moghadam worked directly with customers. He says Patriot was unable to complete jobs they’d scheduled because Martin stole the company’s tools and equipment, and says they couldn’t offer refunds to consumers because Martin took money from the business as well. He says Moghadam didn’t realize the trouble until the summer of 2012. Miller says a lawsuit filed against Martin in Shelby County Superior Court on behalf of Patriot Restoration seeks unspecified damages for theft, fraud and negligence, which court records confirm.

No trial date had been set in the case against Martin as of press time. Martin couldn’t be reached for comment.

Barth Handyman Services | Noblesville

  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Landed in the Penalty Box
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile

Nora member John Nepsa says he hopes the review he wrote on Barth Handyman Services — one of six filed on the F-rated company — will save other consumers from making the same mistakes he did. Nepsa says he hired owner Josh Barth to install a shower door, paying him $200 before the job was finished. Nepsa says he found Barth installing the door using only caulk, and that the handyman begged off the job after two hours, offering to return the next day. “I was stupid. I paid him. I shouldn’t have,” Nepsa says, adding he hired someone else to finish the work. Barth remains in the Penalty Box for failing to participate in the Angie’s List complaint resolution process after member Pearl Douglas complained he took $800 for a roof repair he didn’t complete.

In the last decade, civil judgments of more than $5,000 have been levied against Barth and they remain unpaid, according to Marion County court records. Attempts to reach Barth by phone and email were unsuccessful.

Mister Quik Home Services | Indianapolis

  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile

In January, Mister Quik Home Services agreed to pay a $50,000 settlement that will result in refunds to two consumers for a total of $5,568, and pay fines and costs resulting from a lawsuit filed in 2013, according to the Indiana attorney general. Twenty-eight other customers received settlements directly from Mister Quik Home Services before the settlement, the AG says.

In a 2013 lawsuit, the AG alleged Indy Connection Electrical Contractors, doing business as Mister Quik Home Services, violated state consumer laws by misleading consumers about the scope of electrical, HVAC and plumbing repairs, often recommending extensive service when simple fixes were all that was needed.

Lawrence member Marie Davidson says a Mister Quik tech prescribed a $2,100 surge protector to fix a light above her sink. She paid a reduced price of about $607, but Davidson says the light kept malfunctioning. She says the tech returned and fixed it by tightening a screw behind the switch panel. “If he had checked that [panel for the] light over the sink first, that light would’ve worked,” says Davidson, who filed an F review.

In a written statement, Stephen A. Cooke, public relations director for Bose Public Affairs Group, a public relations firm hired by Mister Quik, says, "We are pleased with the agreement reached with the Indiana Attorney General and to have resolved the two consumer complaints at hand."

Mister Quik has a B rating on Angie's List, but was excluded from category and keyword searches due to the AG suit.

Penalty Box Hall of Shame

The Penalty Box is our way of alerting other members about a provider who has failed to meet a member's expectations. See Indianapolis Penalty Box Hall of Shame.

2013 Best & Worst Contractors

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013. Did your contractor make the list? Select a market to the best and worst in your area.


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When you need to hire for tree service, look for a local contractor and avoid unsolicited offers. (Photo courtesy of Greg Whisenand)
When you need to hire for tree service, look for a local contractor and avoid unsolicited offers. (Photo courtesy of Greg Whisenand)

Avoid getting scammed by unsolicited tree-trimming offers by getting a written contract, verifying insurance and checking references.

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