San Antonio's best and worst contractors of 2008
by Lindsay Murphy, Joshua Palmer and Kristen Rojowski
In addition to our nationwide list, here are the San Antonio contractors who have earned the distinction of being the best or worst in the San Antonio area.
Dan the Computer Man
Some of the best feedback Dan Vogler, the owner of Dan the Computer Man, receives is from jobs where he never shows up. “A lot of times I can walk people through an easy fix over the phone,” Vogler says. “It saves them time, money and they learn about their computer.”
Patricia Wood of San Antonio is just one Angie’s List member who gave Vogler an “A” rating and appreciates Vogler’s approach to customer service. “I’ve used several other computer technicians, but they haven’t explained much about the process,” Wood says. “Dan explains what he’s doing and gave good, clear answers to my questions.”
Vogler says he’s just happy he can help and put a smile on his customers’ faces. “My job is like delivering flowers, people are always glad to see me,” Vogler says.
Alamo City Arbor Care
Jon Chalker, the owner of Alamo City Arbor Care, thinks proper cleanup is an essential part of a landscaping job and stresses that importance to his crews. “I insist on every job being done as if we were at our own homes,” Chalker says. “We want to leave the job cleaner than when we got there.”
Kathleen Peyton of San Antonio saw their meticulous ways when she hired Alamo to prune trees on her property. “They thoroughly cleaned up debris and even rehung the bird feeders and bird houses.”
Other members, like Clay Brumit of San Antonio, liked Alamo’s prompt service and reasonable prices. “They know their business and provide top-notch customer service, hands down,” Brumit says.
Daniel De La Fuente
In May, San Antonio’s Fourth Court of Appeals upheld Daniel De La Fuente’s conviction and 90-year sentence for felony theft and organized criminal activity. A Bexar County jury had found De La Fuente guilty of taking more than $200,000 from 25 San Antonio homeowners for remodeling jobs but never completing the work.
“I’m very glad he’s in jail — it’s where he belongs,” says Ada Minge, a victim named in the original indictment. She gave De La Fuente more than $1,500 to install cultured marble in her bathroom and says he never finished the job.
Assistant District Attorney Trey Banack, who prosecuted the case, calls De La Fuente a con artist. “He used different company names and different names for himself,” Banack says. “He had different boxes where he kept each company’s files so he could keep track.”
De La Fuente could not be reached for comment. Calls to his attorney were not returned.
Randy “Duke” Ellington, Duke’s Photography
When Samantha and Shane Carter hired Duke’s Photography to document their San Antonio wedding, all they wanted were some memorable photos of their big day. Instead, they got nothing. “We pestered him for a year,” Samantha says.
In August, authorities arrested the company’s owner, Randy “Duke” Ellington, on charges of fraud for alledgedly never delivering wedding packages to the Carters or other clients.
After receiving 46 complaints against Ellington, San Antonio Police Department Detective Bob Sholund filed an arrest warrant. “He’s a real shyster,” says Sholund, who estimates the cost of unfulfilled services amounts to tens of thousands of dollars. Sholund confiscated and returned or persuaded Ellington to turn over photos or videos in 24 of those cases, including the Carters’, but dozens of victims allegedly remain. “I’ve got victims from 2005,” Sholund says.
In October, a Bexar County grand jury indicted the photographer on two felony charges of theft, according to the Bexar County Clerk. Ellington remains free on bail and a trial is set for June 26. Ellington’s lawyer declined to comment, citing the ongoing case.