Problems deepen for Pinellas seawall company - WNCN: News, Weather

Problems deepen for Pinellas seawall company

Posted: Updated:
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Clearwater-based Pinellas Marine Construction left unfinished jobs, heavy machinery and frustration across Pinellas County, an 8 On Your Side investigation found.

Nine customers say they've paid hefty down payments of tens of thousands of dollars but received only partial work or nothing at all. Customers say company owner Kevin Fisk at first gave a list of excuses and then stopped returning their calls.

The Pinellas County Licensing Board and Pinellas County Consumer Protection are both investigating the complaints. Until now, though, this company had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and no complaints with any of the local consumer groups. That's why it's so puzzling to these consumers that something has gone so wrong.

8 On Your Side reported about five disgruntled customers with half-done jobs in January. Since then, more customers have stepped forward.

At first, Fisk didn't return repeated phone calls from 8 On Your Side, so we tracked him down at his Seminole home. He wouldn't speak on camera, ran inside his home and wouldn't come out. But he did speak on the phone and blamed the delays on a family illness, the weather, permitting issues and broken equipment. He said that in his 35 years of running his business, he's never had issues and that he plans to finish all of the jobs.

Some of the broken equipment Fisk mentioned is behind the Commodore Apartments on Treasure Island. Owner Dale Nelson is frustrated. His records show he paid Pinellas Marine more than $86,000 to fix the seawall after it fell apart last April. His first payment was in May. He says Fisk kept asking for more money for materials, and he kept writing checks.

Work was sporadic for eight months, and then the job just halted in October. Now, Nelson doesn't know what to do about the broken seawall, and he fears rising water will damage his property.

"It's terrible. It's a mess, and then of course I find out about a month ago that there are other people in my same boat," Nelson said. "And then I really started to worry."

He's not the only Pinellas Marine customer in limbo. In Largo, Kim Taylor and her neighbor together spent at least $15,000. John Granger is waiting on $21,000 worth of work to be finished in St. Petersburg.

Alicia Lowther, in St. Petersburg, paid $24,000. Work started in October but halted a few weeks later. She says Fisk has left sporadic messages promising he'll be back but now won't return her calls.

"It's unsightly, but more so, it's a safety concern," Lowther said. "It's just not safe to be in the backyard. We have concerns that if the job is not completed soon, we're going to be back in hurricane season again."

Potentially worse, Lowther's neighbor, Rita Cotsakis, says Pinellas Marine cashed her two checks totaling $12,500 in October and never started work at her St. Petersburg home. She and her husband prepped their dock for the job. At first, she says Fisk gave excuses but now won't even answer the phone.

"We're frustrated," Cotsakis said. "We're disappointed. It's a hard situation to deal with. We're in limbo right now."

Doug Templeton, with the office of Pinellas County Consumer Protection, says these are the first customer complaints to that agency about Pinellas Marine since the company opened in 1979. But something clearly went wrong.

Templeton is currently investigating, and says these consumers did their homework. But he offers tips for anyone hiring a home contractor:

*Don't pay more than 10 percent down.

*Get an estimated completion date and payment schedule in writing.

*Don't pay before each part of the project is done.

*And ask the contractor to sign an affidavit, promising that sub-contractors were already paid.

Several of Fisk's customers have received notices of liens on their homes from sub-contractors.

The Pinellas County Licensing Board is also investigating and says Fisk will have to answer questions about recent complaints at a hearing in front of the board in March.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.



  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:02 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:02:23 GMT
    File Photo: Nick CongletonFile Photo: Nick Congleton
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
  • Home Depot probing 'Unusual Activity' after reports of data breach

    Home Depot probing 'Unusual Activity' after reports of data breach

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:55 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:55:41 GMT
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to suffer a massive credit card breachHome Depot may be the latest retailer to suffer a massive credit card breach
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to have suffered a massive credit card breach, the company confirmed on Tuesday, after Krebs on Security reported that a large cache of stolen data had appeared on black market sites.
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to have suffered a massive credit card breach, the company confirmed on Tuesday, after Krebs on Security reported that a large cache of stolen data had appeared on black market sites.
  • Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:45 AM EDT2014-09-02 12:45:21 GMT
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Is your data safe in Apple’s iCloud?

    Is your data safe in Apple’s iCloud?

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:04:56 GMT
    Hackers gained access to celebrities private pictures including nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence. Apple says it has fixed a security flaw but cybersecurity experts say anyone can become a victim.“Anybody can get hacked.
    Hackers gained access to celebrities private pictures including nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence. Apple says it has fixed a security flaw but cybersecurity experts say anyone can become a victim.“Anybody can get hacked.
  • Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:02 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:02:23 GMT
    File Photo: Nick CongletonFile Photo: Nick Congleton
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
  • Dead fish creating problems on Honeymoon Island

    Dead fish creating problems on Honeymoon Island

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 4:43 PM EDT2014-09-02 20:43:31 GMT
    Red Tide spotted on the shore of Honeymoon Island.Red Tide spotted on the shore of Honeymoon Island.
    Scattered on the shore of Honeymoon Island in Pinellas county are hundreds of dead fish.Park rangers started noticing the fish wash on shore on Friday, just before one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year."In some spots it scattered and as you move up north on the beach it's up in the hundreds of fish," said park manager Pete Krulder.
    Scattered on the shore of Honeymoon Island in Pinellas county are hundreds of dead fish.Park rangers started noticing the fish wash on shore on Friday, just before one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year."In some spots it scattered and as you move up north on the beach it's up in the hundreds of fish," said park manager Pete Krulder.
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.