Minneapolis area's best and worst contractors of 2008

Minneapolis area's best and worst contractors of 2008

by YaShekia King

In addition to our nationwide list, here are the Minneapolis contractors who have earned the distinction of being the Best or Worst in the Twin Cities area.

The Best

Paladin Plumbing

Several Angie’s List members sprinkle Paladin Plumbing with praise for rescuing them from deep water.

Co-owner Craig Johnson of Paladin Plumbing resolved a mysterious leak under Lila Aske’s Minneapolis kitchen sink in September. Aske, who had resorted to catching the leaking water in a pie tin she had to empty daily, struggled to find the source of the problem because she has hip problems and her husband has bad knees. But Johnson got under their sink, pinpointed the problem and ended up tightening their sprayer head ring.

“Using them restored my faith in good plumbers,” Aske says.

That’s the goal of Johnson, who founded the company with Jerry Olson, the president, in 1998. They’ve been in the plumbing industry for more than 25 years each. “We put all of our customers first and put Angie’s List customers ahead of them,” Johnson says. “We believe a positive report on Angie’s List is more valuable than the actual payment we receive from any one customer.”

Eric Mortenson Construction
St. Paul

When a hailstorm damaged siding on Deb Carey’s Shoreview home, she came up with a temporary solution — duct tape. Carey finally contacted Eric Mortenson Construction to replace the siding. While there, Mortenson ended up replacing her deck with a screened-in porch, complete with a dog door, and wiring the porch for electricity and cable TV. The new porch, which looks like it was part of the original home, Carey says, even sports speakers in the ceiling to connect to a radio or iPod.

“When I sit out there and breathe the cool air and look at nature, I feel my stress melt away,” Carey says. “Everyone who’s seen my porch thinks it’s a terrific space.”

Great reviews are the norm for Mortenson, who started his company 20 years ago and began construction 32 years ago after a friend taught him the profession.

“It’s more of an art,” Mortenson says. “I have a lot of good friendships — they were clients at one time.”

Borden Window LLC
St. Paul

Call owner Jeff Borden for a window job, and you can expect to wait a few months to get on his schedule. That’s because Borden says he saves customers money by making old windows energy-efficient and uses caution when handling lead paint.

Borden started as a roofer but injured his back and began working for his friend’s father’s window company in 1982.

“That was supposed to be a one- or two-day job — I ended up working with him for 10 years,” says Borden, who started his own company in 2005. “The ‘green’ revolution is big now. I’m booked until almost May.”

That didn’t stop Minneapolis’ Mark Downey from hiring Borden — also a Super Service Award recipient — to weather-strip 25 windows in March.

“Borden’s definitely worth the wait,” says Downey, who waited five months. “There’s no longer a breeze going through my house, and I hear far less street noise. I’m glad I didn’t pay more for new windows.”

The Worst

American Carpet Master

For Gladys Johnson of Minneapolis, a decision to hire American Carpet Master ended up being a washout.

The day after she paid the company $110 to clean her carpet, she says she realized it didn’t come clean. They rescheduled, but she says no one showed up.

“When I called them back, the guy on the phone started calling me names and told me I had a problem,” Johnson says. The company has an unsatisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company also has an “F” rating on the List and landed in the Penalty Box for not upholding a warranty on a carpet they cleaned. American Carpet Master didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Reliable Garage Door
St. Paul

When Angie’s List member Marta Shore’s garage door spring needed to be fixed in July, she figured Reliable Garage Doors would be dependable. “There wasn’t anything bad that popped out about them,” Shore says. But what the Angie’s List member experienced with the garage door company was quite the opposite of what she’d hoped for. Shore paid the company $40 to come out and observe her garage door, which failed to open. That $40 would have been applied to the repair if she had chosen to remain with the company, which quoted her $600 to fix the door, she says. “Then the technician started to give me a lot of pressure,” Shore says. “He actually barged into my house.” She hired another company to fix her door the next day for $150. Angie’s List member John Stolarcek hired the company in September and reports a similar experience. “The guy who repaired my door from Reliable was a bully and intimidating,” Stolarcek says. Shore and Stolarcek are among several customers who’ve filed complaints against the company, which has an unsatisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company has an overall grade of “F” on the List. Reliable Garage Door didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Parish Marketing and Development Corp.

When Parish Marketing and Development Corporation began building so many homes in New Prague, Minn., despite the shaky housing market, area resident Kristin Guerrette saw red flags. Now, after seeing house after house fall into foreclosure around her, she says her own home value has fallen.

“Our area was hit twice as hard because of fraud,” Guerrette says. “If I were to sell my house right now, I’d take a big hit.” Officials say Parish Marketing used straw buyers, often relatives, to purchase their properties at inflated prices and falsified loan applications. But because they couldn’t find new buyers in the slow market, houses ended up in foreclosure.

The owners of Parish Marketing, a longtime Minnesota home builder, pleaded guilty in November 2007 and were sentenced in July 2008 on federal charges of conspiring to commit mortgage fraud and money laundering in a scheme involving about 200 homes and $100 million in loan proceeds, according to the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. “This case to date is the largest mortgage fraud prosecution that our office has handled,” says David Anderson, public affairs specialist for the attorney’s office.

Michael Alan Parish, who owned the company with Ardith Parish, was sentenced to 156 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Ardith was sentenced to 60 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Christopher David Troup, their son-in-law and an agent for the company, was sentenced to 120 months for his part in the scheme.

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