Washington, D.C. Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

Washington, D.C. Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

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

 

Washington, D.C., Best Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Lisa Renze-Rhodes


123Junk | Chantilly, Va.

Collin Wheeler founded 123Junk as a 23-year-old college graduate in 2008 and he now employs 13 people. (Photo courtesy of Collin Wheeler)
  • Charity work or cummunity awards
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Green products or work practices
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Each day, Collin Wheeler and his 123Junk employees fan out throughout the Washington, D.C., area, helping residents rid their homes of unwanted items. With charity partnerships that span from Habitat for Humanity to the Salvation Army, Wheeler says he works daily to redefine how people dispose of unneeded home goods. "We pride ourselves on being the Cadillac of junk removal, in terms of quality, not in terms of price," Wheeler says.

A formula of donate, recycle and dispose guides the business, for which a license is not needed. His strategy garners high marks from Angie's List members, who awarded him 13 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year. He also received a 2012 nomination from the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce for small business of the year.

Ashburn, Va., member Joe Vax describes working with Wheeler as "a breeze." When Vax's load turned out to be bigger than estimated, they made adjustments for price and space on the spot, Vax says. He avoided having to arrange another pickup date, and ultimately, Vax says, that flexibility and quick decision-making saved him money. "I would definitely use their service again," he says.

SideWalk Dog Training | Washington, D.C.

Tessie, shown with David Schmucker, was labeled a troublemaker until Schmucker corrected her bad behaviors. (Photo courtesy of David Schmucker)
  • Praised for pet friendliness
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Before Angel Schneider adopted a 1-year-old German shorthair pointer named Maggie, all of her "fur babies" had been, well, babies. "This is the first time we had done a rescue," the Herndon, Va., member says. "Though she wasn't abused, getting shuffled around at a young age can have an impact." Because Maggie growled, barked and finally snapped at a stranger, Schneider says, she called David Schmucker, owner of SideWalk Dog Training. "Literally in the first hour, we started to see changes," Schneider says. "The next morning what really shocked us is someone rang the doorbell and I thought, ‘Oh no, here we go,' but Maggie just looked at me. I just thought, ‘Holy cow.' You don't expect to see immediate results."

Schmucker, who doesn't need a license to operate his business, says his methods focus on fixing the behavior of pet parents, not pets. Primarily he preaches maintaining consistency with expectations. His interest in the field came about when he met a "troublemaker" dog, Tessie, who had been put up for adoption because her family deemed her uncontrollable. After being adopted by Schmucker, Tessie responded well to his consistent actions — for instance never allowing the dog to walk through a door prior to a person — that he says realigned her sense of who was the home's leader. Schmucker's efforts garnered him 12 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year.

"If the dog is tearing up the place, the whole family is upset," says Schmucker, who services the Washington, D.C., metro area. "To me, working with a dog so it can stay with a family is the return for this work." He volunteers to help families who can't afford, but would benefit from his expertise. Additionally, he volunteers time with two D.C.-area rescue groups.

Body language and simple commands that are easy to give and understand are the keys to having a well-behaved pet, he says, and Schneider agrees. "It's a lot of subtle changes that we incorporated and don't think about anymore," says Schneider, who now only allows Maggie on the couch to snuggle after giving the dog permission. "The money spent is worth gold," Schneider says. "His services are invaluable."

Mighty Clean Carpet Care | Manassas, Va.

As owner/operator of Mighty Clean Carpet Care, Mike Furcron says he takes his work personally, since he's a member of the same community as his customers. (Photo courtesy of Mike Furcron)
  • Charity work or cummunity awards
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Frustration proved the mother of invention when Mike Furcron opened Mighty Clean Carpet Care. Furcron says his motivation to start the business came after finding unreliable options as a consumer. "We got poor customer service and the carpets weren't clean." So after doing research and becoming certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration, Furcron says, he set to work. "We know the people in this community, we do the work," he says. "We enjoy serving our customers and want them to be happy."

Warrenton, Va., member Teresa Connor thought a winter storm would derail her plans for cleaning the carpet before moving to a new home, but Furcron made sure the job stayed on schedule. "You could tell he took pride in his work and the services they offered." Mighty Clean, which services Northern Virginia, received 14 Page of Happiness nominations last year.

Kinnett Plumbing | Woodbridge, Va.

With more than 20 years of experience, Kevin Kinnett says he likes being able to meet new people and fix his customers' problems. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Kinnett)
  • Charity work or cummunity awards
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Seeing plumber Kevin Kinnett pull into her drive thrilled Dumfries, Va., member Carole Phillips after she found herself with a plugged-up sink and guests on the way. "I was having a dinner party," Phillips says. Her usual plumber charged excessive weekend rates, she says, driving her to find Kinnett on Angie's List. "He was there for ages because the pipes snake all over," she says, adding that she appreciated his resolve. "He worked at it until it was clear."

Kinnett services Fairfax, Prince William, and Stafford counties and is a licensed master plumber. He received 14 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year. "Making people happy, that's the joy of the job," says Kinnett, who donates services to a local veterans group and an animal shelter. "We're the hero of the day."

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.

Washington, D.C., Worst Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Lisa Renze-Rhodes

Maryland Appliance Repair | Pasadena, Md.

DC-area resident Jane Hemberger says this ad referencing Maryland Appliance Service encouraged her to call the company for help with an emergency service need. (Photo courtesy Jane Hemberger)
  • 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
  • Illegally unlicensed

At press time, Maryland Appliance Repair owner David Lee Mansel Jr. awaited a December hearing on charges he defrauded customers by operating without a license and took payment for services he couldn't provide, court documents say. After receiving 68 complaints from consumers, the Maryland attorney general filed suit last year against the firm, which is also known as Maryland Appliance Service, seeking repayment for consumers, an undisclosed civil penalty for violating the state's Consumer Protection Act and a court order that Mansel cease operations until he obtains a license. The company advertised its services in Prince George's and other Maryland counties.

Janet Gobrecht of Severn says she found Mansel online when her refrigerator malfunctioned while she had family over on Christmas. Two visits and $500 later, the fridge still wasn't working, Gobrecht says, and the company didn't return calls. "We thought people should know about these guys," says Gobrecht, who joined Angie's List and filed one of the company's four F reviews. She says a $40 part fixed the appliance. Maryland Appliance also landed in the Penalty Box for failing to participate in the Angie's List complaint resolution process after member Brenda Dimmick says the techs missed appointments, failed to fix her fridge and left a used circuit board in the rain on her doorstep instead of delivering a new one.

Mansel also faces civil suits brought by consumers in three Maryland counties, as well as a class action suit in Howard County that includes 16 people. Mansel attributes customer mishaps to several challenges that cropped up for his business at the same time. "Things got out of control when we lost one of our [parts] suppliers," he says. "I assure any Angie's List customers that they will get their refund."

Jane Hemberger, who is part of the class action suit, says she fought with Mansel for a refund of $300 she paid to fix a part on her fridge that another technician later informed her wasn't broken. "There was no way, unless they were pummeled, that they were going to give me my money back," she says.

Regency Furniture | Brandywine, Md.

Member Veronica Bush shows the warranty she claims Regency Furniture won't honor for damage that occured to the leather couch shown. (Photo courtesy Veronica Bush)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran

Just over a year after buying a sectional sofa and table for $1,525 from Regency Furniture, member Veronica Bush of Oxon Hill, Md., says she discovered a broken slat under one side of the couch, causing it to sink when sat upon. Armed with a five-year warranty she bought for $105, Bush says she called Regency requesting aid. Company representatives told her the one-year manufacturer's warranty expired and her extended warranty was administered by a third party, she says. For a fee, Bush says, Regency offered to examine the sofa, but she declined. Ultimately, the sofa was fixed, Bush says, by her son. "I have a five-year warranty," she says. "I don't think that's fair to [charge] me to get them to come look."

Regency has an F rating with nine reviews from Maryland and Virginia members. In the last 12 months, the Washington, D.C., branch of the Better Business Bureau received 110 consumer complaints against Regency, which operates six stores in the D.C. area. The Maryland AG also logged 132 consumer complaints about the company, according to department spokesman Alan Brody. Those complaints, Brody says, allege Regency provided defective goods or services; refused to honor warranties; and failed to deliver some or all goods or services.

Regency also has a history of civil suits and judgments, mostly from customers, according to the court documents. Currently in Prince George's and Montgomery counties in Maryland, consumers and business owners filed lawsuits seeking more than $18,000 in payment or refunds, court records show. Unpaid civil judgments against the company in 2013 total nearly $900,000, court records show. But Lee Anne Abujama, Regency Furniture customer service manager, says the company plans to appeal many of those decisions.

The company considers refunds for damages on a case-by-case basis, Abujama says. Regency sales reps offer warranties, but the company doesn't handle claims, Abujama says. However, the firm listed on Bush's copy of the warranty is Mid-Atlantic Warehouse Services, which shares an address and phone number with Regency. Further calls to Abujama to clarify the connection between the two businesses weren't returned.

Creteman Concrete | Beaverdam, Va.

  • 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
  • Illegally unlicensed

At press time, $7,750 in fines remained unpaid by Creteman Concrete after the Virginia Board for Contractors revoked the operating license for the D-rated company in 2013 in response to consumer complaints, according to the state Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

The board cited Creteman for failing to disclose owner Brian Delawder's five felony convictions, two involving drug possession and/or distribution, in the firm's license application, along with other violations, agency documents show. Members complained about shoddy work, unfinished projects and rude treatment.

Court records show Delawder and his wife, Dawn, declared bankruptcy in 2012.

Woodbridge, Va., member Tammy Taylor says she paid Delawder nearly $1,800 down on a concrete job he never finished. "When I started researching him and found out he was terrible, I let it go," Taylor says.

Robert Barlow, a lawyer who represented the couple in their bankruptcy, declined to comment. The firm advertises its services in D.C. and Virginia.

EnviroCair | Kensington, Md.

Hill says EnviroCair damaged her home's subflooring during a poorly executed cleaning job. (Photo courtesy Karen Hill)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran

Two pending civil suits seeking $6,500 in relief, and complaints forwarded to the AG against EnviroCair, also known as EnviroCare, allege the company conducts bait and switch scams, among other complaints. Consumers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia say that company techs hired to clean air ducts claim to find mold and offer unnecessary services to remediate it. The firm has a D with 19 reviews, including four Fs in 2013.

Arlington, Va., member Katie Lewis says a tech visually assessed her condo's air ducts, claimed to find mold and charged her $500 to fix the problem. "When they walked out, I had this really weird gut feeling," says Lewis, adding she believes she paid for unnecessary work.

Ray Allen, who first identified EnviroCair as his company when reached by phone, but then said he only works in the office, claims someone in the AG's office is "trying to hurt my business." Allen says his competitors are behind the complaints and lawsuits.

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 Washington 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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