St. Louis area's best and worst contractors of 2008

St. Louis area's best and worst contractors of 2008

by YaShekia King

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

The Best

Jack's Painting Inc.

After hiring a company to repair wall cracks caused by a two-year drought, Dolores Forsythe called Jack's Painting Inc. to paint the wall and also her bedroom. "My bedroom went from blah to brand new," says Forsythe, who rewarded owner Jack Walker and his crew with a home-cooked meal.

"I was cooking and they said, 'It smells like our mothers' houses,'" says Forsythe, one of nearly two dozen Angie's List members to give him an "A" report in the past two years.

Walker started his company of three in 2007 after downsizing from a larger remodeling and painting company he owned for 10 years. He even finds time to donate small repairs to people at his church. "I'm obsessive-compulsive," Walker says. "If I can please myself, the customer will be more than pleased."

Shanfeld Electric
St. Louis

Terry Shanfeld knew he'd become an electrician at age 3 when his parents gifted him with an electric train. He started Shanfeld Electric in 1984 and has been gifting his customers with impressive work ever since, members say.

"When you do the connections and turn the power on, you see the beauty of your work," Shanfeld says. "It's kind of like turning on a Christmas tree."

Customer Jim Mains of St. Louis is still saying "wow" after hiring the company to install a new wall outlet so he could mount a flat-panel TV last year. "They listened to what I wanted," Mains says. "I wouldn't hesitate to use them again."

The Worst

Best Built Fence Co.
St. Louis

Daniel Cahill, owner of Best Built Fence Co., pleaded guilty to six felony counts of unlawful merchandising practices in July and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years of probation, according to the attorney general's office. Cahill defrauded four homeowners by not completing or beginning jobs he was paid to do, says John Fougere, the attorney general's press secretary. He had until Nov. 20 to pay $36,000 in restitution or face four years in prison. As of press time, Cahill had failed to pay and a motion to revoke his probation was ongoing.

Angie's List member Patricia Struckel of St. Louis hired Cahill to repair a fence at her home. She says he didn't do any work and never refunded her $100. "He'd say he'd be there, but never did [come]," Struckel says. "When I did talk to him, he was obnoxious and rude, and actually cursed at me."

Struckel and another member have each filed an "F" report on the company, which also has an unsatisfactory BBB rating for failing to respond to eight complaints. Cahill's attorney, Guy Wold, didn't return calls for comment.

J. T. Contracting
St. Louis

Wendy Flanagan of Maryland Heights paid J.T. Contracting $4,350 to install ceramic tile in June. She says the gaps between the tiles were varying sizes, the grout color was wrong and tiles kept popping up. "The more they said they'd fix the problem, the worse it got," Flanagan says. "It was the worst experience."

In October, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon ordered owner Timothy Burke to shut down and pay $85,266 to 18 customers. Burke did shoddy work, left jobs incomplete, and in some cases, accepted payments for projects he didn't start, press secretary Fougere says.

Flanagan says she complained to the attorney general in late October and was awarded two-thirds of the amount she had paid to J.T. Contracting. As of press time, she's still waiting for it. "Hopefully I'll get my money," she says.

The company has three "F" reports on Angie's List for allegedly not completing remodels it was paid to do, and an unsatisfactory BBB rating for not resolving two complaints.

Burke says he's shutting down after 15 years in business. "I'm trying to settle everything with previous customers," Burke says. "With the way the economy is, I wasn't able to make it work."

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