Jacksonville area's best and worst contractors of 2008

Jacksonville area's best and worst contractors of 2008

by Staci Giordullo

In addition to our nationwide list, here are the Jacksonville contractors who have earned the distinction of being the best or worst in the Jacksonville area.

The Best

Helping Hands Movers Inc.

“You build your company one customer at a time,” says Jim Hamilton, owner of Helping Hands Movers Inc. “At the end of the day if you do people right, they’ll do right by you.” Praised by many Angie’s List members for his promptness and efficiency, Hamilton knows honesty and communication is key to a successful business. One member report even mentioned how Hamilton’s crew took the time to give her son attention. “We’re very one-on-one with our customers,” Hamilton says. “There’s no room for error or excuses.”

Angie’s List member Vicki Smelley says the service she received from Hamilton was top-notch. “What a super-nice guy,” she says. “He moved items from a storage facility to my new condo in Orange Park. He was so polite and helpful.”

Aarron’s Pressure Washing

Orange Park

Dale Jackson didn’t know his driveway could ever be so clean. Thanks to the exceptional job done by Aarron’s Pressure Washing, Jackson has pledged any future work to owner Aarron Casper and recommends other Angie’s List members do the same. “What makes Aarron so great is that he’s the most friendly and accommodating business person I’ve dealt with,” he says.

Casper says you simply have to treat every customer as if they were your best friend. “I’m a one-man show,” he says. “If you get personal with people and you do good work, they’ll use you forever.”

The Worst

WS Industries

Jacksonville resident Beth Knowles says trusting Eric N. Nelson to restore a piece of antique furniture almost cost her a family heirloom worth $3,500.

Nelson’s company, WS Industries, which also does business as Albacore Woodworking Corporation, Ancient Arts Corporation, LaCroix Woodworking Corporation and several other company names, was ordered in August to cease work in Florida for engaging in deceptive and unfair business practices, according to the attorney general. The company accepted deposits, then inflated the repair cost and refused to return the furniture until the new price was paid. Or, as in Knowles’ case, Nelson picked up customers’ furniture and was never heard from again.

“The secretary he took has been handed down through the family,” says Knowles, who adds that she was unaware of the 33 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau before she paid $750 for work estimated to take eight weeks. “Three months later, I still hadn’t heard from him and the number was disconnected.” Angie’s List Magazine couldn’t reach Nelson for comment.

Luckily for Knowles, the story has a happy ending. Authorities discovered a warehouse containing furniture that allegedly was being held “hostage,” including her antique secretary.

Kitzman Interior Design Solutions Inc.

Orange Park

Sandy Hager says Kitzman Interior Design Solutions took her $17,000 for a kitchen remodel, but never completed any work. “I’m so embarrassed,” she says. “I wanted to give this small business a chance.” After owners Robin and Gordon Kitzman promised for weeks to start work, Hager says she knew she’d seen the last of her money when they declared bankruptcy in February.

Several homeowners have filed complaints with Angie’s List, the attorney general and the BBB, accusing the Kitzmans of accepting money for work they failed to deliver.

Scheduled for trial in December as this issue went to press, the Kitzmans each have been charged with grand theft, organizing a scheme to defraud and contracting without a license, which could garner them up to 30 years in jail a piece. Their attorney didn’t return calls seeking comment.

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