Catching a roofer who made promises he wouldn’t keep

The woman gave the young man starting a new roofing company an insurance check for $7,600. He never replaced her roof, and when she said she wanted her money back, he told her she was too pushy.

On behalf of customer Debbie Rimerman of Arlington, Watchdog Nation contacted budding businessman Marcus “Mark” Ray Hedlund and asked about Rimerman’s money.

“She’s already been paid.”

Not the expected answer.

“Give her a call, and call me back if there’s a problem,” he said.

I told him that as of two days before, she had not received her money.

“Call her back, buddy.”

As readers of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Dave Lieber Watchdog column first learned, when I started to speak again, Hedlund said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hey, hey, hey, look. … What you need to do is call her back and make sure she got it. And call me back, and I’ll give you the best story you’ve ever written in your entire life. How about that?”

I called Rimerman. She said she never received a dime.

Hedlund promised her a good roof and me a great story. Clearly, he’s a man who knows how to make promises.

And break them, it seems.

Courtesy of authenticroofwest.com

I called him, e-mailed him and texted him. He went radio silent. But I still found a story: Hedlund is an ex-con with a decade of trouble behind him. Rimerman had no idea. How about that?

Before that call

Rimerman got a recommendation from a friend about Hedlund. He’s 27 and owns MH Custom Roofing.

When Hedlund visited Rimerman, she was torn about whether to hire him. “Instinctively, I had a bad feeling about this guy but figured it was a new business and I would give him a chance.”

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What followed was a cascade of delays and excuses: He went to Colorado to take care of an estate. He got sick. His other roofing jobs got in the way. There were hassles delivering the materials. On and on.

She went to his house in Arlington, where he lives with his parents. Standing at the front door, she recalls, she asked Hedlund, “When are you going to give me my money?”

“Well, the reason I haven’t called is you have been too pushy.”

“Too pushy? You have $7,000 of my money!”

She went back to the house and complained to the young man’s father. Then she complained to the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association because Hedlund’s contract includes the organization’s logo. (He’s not a member.) The association’s executive director, Karen Vermaire Fox, urged her to contact Watchdog Nation.

The roofer called Rimerman and told her that he used her money to get himself out of trouble. He didn’t say what kind of trouble. But he explained that he had a scheduled roof job in Oklahoma and then he would come back and draw up a contract and repay her with interest.

When she didn’t hear from him, she sued in small-claims court.

As for Hedlund’s troubles, when Rimerman checked his name on an Internet search engine, his mug shots popped up.

Hedlund was convicted last year of assault with bodily injury and driving while intoxicated, according to records from the Tarrant County district attorney’s office. Previously, he was on probation after he was found guilty in 2003 of burglary and robbery. Later, that probation was revoked, and he spent two years in prison. He has also pleaded guilty to evading arrest and detention.

Texas doesn’t require a roofer’s license. Fox said, “With a roofing license, he couldn’t operate as a roofer with a criminal record.”

The association’s proposed law for licensing was junked in a 2011 legislative committee. If enough jilted customers complain to lawmakers, the 2013 version of the bill may get more traction, Fox said.

After Rimerman learned of Hedlund’s convictions, she texted him one more time: “I’m sure the prosecuting attorney would love to hear about what you did to me.”

Once again, he didn’t answer.

Update:
 
  After this report appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Tarrant County district attorney’s office made an inquiry. The roofer hired a lawyer and repaid the $7,000.

Hedlund, who has served time in prison for burglary and robbery, says it was a misunderstanding about the cost of materials. He says the publicity was a blessing in disguise because he took the opportunity to restart his roofing business in San Antonio.

This week, one of his sales prospects searched his name on the Internet, found this report column and balked at hiring him.

Hedlund called me, and then he put her on the line. He wanted me to explain that he had repaid the money to the customer. I did, but he lost the sale.

I’m rooting for him. Everybody deserves a second chance. But this happy ending goes to the customer. Rimmerman got a new roof from somebody else. Hedlund left town.

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More Watchdog Nation reports on roofing:

Woman learns lesson about checking a contractor’s background

An indictment for him, and a turning point for me

 

Watch author Dave Lieber in a roofing video here or below.

 

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Are you tired of hiring idiot contractors who take the money and run? Hiring a good roofer is included in the author’s popular book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong. The 2012 edition of the book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit our store. The book won two national book awards for social change.

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