We have enough problems with our image in the roofing industry. Now Georgia-based roofing contractor American Shingle’s Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing is leaving a trail of homeowners, subcontractors, and various other suppliers in the lurch over tens of millions of dollars worth of insurance work that was never completed.
We have enough problems with our image in the roofing
industry. Now Georgia-based roofing contractor American Shingle’s Chapter 7
Bankruptcy filing is leaving a trail of homeowners, subcontractors, and various
other suppliers in the lurch over tens of millions of dollars worth of
insurance work that was never completed.
This is going to be ugly, and it is going to take a long time
to sort out.
The Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association of
Georgia has tried for years to get the state of Georgia to require specialty
licensing and tighter codes for roofing contractors and roofing construction
work. They have been close but never closed the deal. I have mixed emotions
about inviting the government into anything and have cautioned roofing
contractors in the past that licensing laws are two-edged swords. Without
enforcement they are worth very little, especially when it comes to protecting
consumers. Without enforcement, a specialty license does virtually nothing to
support the efforts of hard-working contractors who know their trade and
provide consistently good work at fair prices.
If legitimate roofing contractors in Georgia do not
seize the day and get some regulations passed, they may never enjoy the same
opportunity again. I am not a roofing contractor and never have been, but I
could be a roofing contractor in my home state of Georgia this afternoon with the
little bit of cash rattling around in my wallet. There is no barrier to entry
and there is little the state (or many municipalities) can or will do to
protect either consumers or other legitimate enterprises.
is not the only state impacted by this situation. American Shingle operated
but they also worked in a number of other states where hailstorms produced
volumes of work.
If there was a way for the legitimate contractors in the
roofing industry to somehow step up and try to give the affected homeowners
some relief, it would perhaps start to pave the way toward the kind of
reputation all roofing contractors want and most deserve.
I realize that is a pipe dream, but I remain sensitive to
the further damage this does to the reputation of everyone in the roofing
industry. And I cannot help but feel for the homeowners who may have lost the
money in the wake of this bankruptcy filing. But the homeowners and their lack
of education in dealing with contractors and insurance claims are part of the
problem. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to use this opportunity to educate
consumers and keep them out of harm’s way next time.
Thank goodness many of these homeowners have some useful
life left in the roofs still on their homes. I could argue that in
the case of storm-related insurance claims there remains a question of
whether or not they are all on the up and up. But that is yet another
Editor's Note: Is the American Shingle Bankruptcy a Call to Action?
October 6, 2010