On Your Side Investigation: Customers demand refunds and repairs from Ozarks siding company

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 10:05 PM CDT
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REPUBLIC, Mo. (KY3) - Imagine paying thousands of dollars for much-needed winter home repairs, waiting months, and nothing. Customers tell On Your Side they’re having problems with an Ozarks siding company. Some who got their product aren’t happy about it and say the job isn’t done.

Donald and Dottie Weishaupt in Republic spent the summer trying to get their siding fixed.

“See, it’s just falling off. Everywhere,” said Donald.

They paid more than $11,000 to Premiere Exterior Solutions. Crews did the job in December. Six months later, gravity won.

“It fell off. It completely fell off,” he said.

They hired Premiere Exterior Solutions because of the unlimited 50-year warranty on the contract.

“I just want it fixed, and we get one excuse after another. It doesn’t seem right,” said Dottie.

About two hours north in Camden County, crews with Premiere Exterior Solutions have not started the job. Amanda Patton paid them nearly $11,000 in May 2021 to replace her grandmother’s siding.

“What bothers me, it’s her money. It’s her hard-earned money. She never cheated anyone in her life,” said Elizabeth Bell.

Patton took out a loan. At first, she says she tried an in-house loan with the company. She says she gave Richard Gillette her credit information over the phone.

Gillette runs Premiere Exterior Solutions.

This isn’t the first time Gillette has made headlines. About ten years ago, On Your Side did a report. Back then, he operated a company called Midwest Modern Exteriors.

Gillette was in federal prison for two years for bank fraud. The indictment reads Gillette devised a scheme to defraud lenders. He overstated his income and altered documents to get loans. He transferred some of the funds into his Midwest Modern Exterior’s account. Investigators say he ‘significantly overstated his commission.’’ Proceeds were used to purchase a $142,000 Lamborghini.

He’s supposed to pay more than one million dollars in restitution. On Your Side doesn’t know if he paid. That information is not public.

After he was released, he got involved with Premiere Exterior Solutions. In February of this year, Gillette was listed on the state paperwork as the secretary, vice-president, and board member.

Three customers have pending cases against the company. In one lawsuit, court documents read the work was ‘incomplete or performed in an unworkmanlike and defective manner.’ Gillette filed a response deniednies the allegations. In a fourth lawsuit, Gillette prevailed. In part because the contract with the customer didn’t have a deadline for when the work would be finished.

Court documents show Gillette’s most recent address as a house in Rogers, Arkansas. A judgment against Gillette says he and his wife were renting the house. In August, they were removed by the sheriff. The landlord won more than $33,000, including back rent, fees, and damages.

Two days after On Your Side visited Donald and Dottie Weishaupt, they tried to reach Gilletagainime. He sent a worker.

“It’s still bad. He said he wanted to strip it. It should be re-striped all the way down to nothing again. Reinstalled,” he said.

The worker’s truck broke down.

“It’s kind of like sitting a couch by the road with a free sign on it,” said Dottie Weishaupt.

More than two weeks later, the worker moved the truck. Because someone returned to the house, Gillette asked Weishaupt to take down his complaint on the Better Business Bureau website.

“There’s nothing to retract. It’s a complaint. It’s for shoddy workmanship,” said Donald Weishaupt.

Gillette has answered all the other complaints on the BBB’s site. Premiere Exterior Solutions has an “A” Rating. The Missouri Attorney General tells On Your Side three customers have filed complaints.

Ashley Reynolds called Gillette. She left a voicemail asking for an on-camera interview.

A few hours later, she got an email. It says in part:

The last two years, we have struggled mightily to navigate the logistical waters of covid related economics. In addition to that, our industry has been dealing with all types of installation personnel fraud… It seems like there is constant mutiny on the bounty, in regards to securing real pros with integrity and intent. So fraud has been a menacing and costly dynamic we have dealt with. Our policy and pride is our mission statement. Quality without compromise… I am personally terribly sorry to our customers for the at times lack of communication and or further delays In getting to their jobs.

Reynolds asked again for an on-camera interview. Gillette said he was out of state. She asked if he could Zoom. He replied:

Ashley, I appreciate your concern for our customers. But quite frankly, we are perfectly capable of handling our own business at this time.

Customers want what they paid for and worry about heating bills in the coming months.

“I just cross my fingers and pay the best I can,” said Bell.

For jobs like these, pay in thirds. One-third upfront. Pay another in the middle of the project. And the final payment when you’re satisfied with the job. Make sure there is a timeline or deadline in the contract for when the work will be completed. Be wary about in-house loans and loans from the business. Do your research on the lender.

Finally, never hesitate to ask for the owner or operator’s full name, especially if it’s not on a business card.

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