Getting Throat Cut

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by G_Dubs, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,358

    Wow!!!! Awesome! You mind if I ask you a couple questions? As in, when did you live in Plattsburgh? Recently or a while ago? The bigger guys around right now are Harts(champlain) Early Riser(plattsburgh) Rand Hill(plattsburgh) Avery(plattsburgh) Yardworks(plattsburgh) I don't see Harts around alot in Platts but they appear to be a successful, big, company. The other guys I have forged relationships with and they are all really nice guys. I have to say, I see a hole in the maintenence market up here if somebody can just figure out how to acquire and retain decent employees. This is what most of the owners gripe about....
  2. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,358

    Sorry, hit return by accident.... Who did you work for out of Beekmantown? Did you guys do a lot in Platts?
  3. hamiltonenterprising

    hamiltonenterprising LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    Besides didn't momma teach us not to tattle tale ?
  4. Krafty

    Krafty LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from St. Louis MO
    Messages: 704

    Low baller paying taxes on cash under the table?? Please tell me that your not that naïve, and were just trying to make a point?
  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    So many scenerios, its a whole other subject.

    What exactly is a low baller?

    I'm sure I have been called a low baller, more than once.

    I have a buddy that own a concrete finishing company. Small company. He does not have business instinct, but he knows how to do a perfect job of pouring and finishing concrete, and he also builds houses.

    He primarily does concrete work for builders. So therefore....he works cheap, as we all know how builders don't pay full value for anything.

    So he had two employees that he was paying $200 / day EACH....CASH. Under the table.

    Well guess what.

    That caught up to him. Since his checks were made out to his company, he had to deposit them, and since the builders send out 1099's. Which means he had to claim all the income. But since he paid 2 guys each $1000 per week, buddy was socked with a $50k bill from the IRS. It caught up to him. He had to file chapter 13.
  6. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    Are you for real?
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    G Dubs,

    First of all, I don't have any real problem with anyone turning anyone else in for business matters they aren't tending to. (Not having proper licensing, insurance, paying taxes, etc.). I don't typically go out of my way to do that to anyone. But if I see something egregious and I have some extra time to spend, I might do it.

    I'm a big believer that we need to all be operating on a level and fair playing field. Meaning, if I have to get all the licensing, insurance, permits, bond, worker's comp., taxes, etc. than so should all of the other companies I am competing against. If someone is cheating that system, I don't see any problem at all with someone else turning them in. As much as I despise government intervention, if I have to play by the rules, than so should everyone else. So ethically, I feel it's totally justified if you feel you want to turn anyone in. In fact, you almost should do it. For the protection of consumers and to help make it a more fair competitive field for you to work in.

    That being said, I'd almost be more concerned with the badmouthing he is doing than anything else. That's not cool at all. If I was really ticked about it and had the time, I might try to get him to come to my house or a friend's house and record the entire conversation. I might give him the opportunity to badmouth by mentioning that I was getting a bid from your company. Then just leave it up to him to bury himself. After the meeting, I might act very interested and see if I could coax him into putting what he said earlier about the company in writing. For instance, send him an email saying, "I wanted to write and let you know we're still trying to decide who to work with. I'm still looking strongly at _____ company. I know you said there were some problems with them. But I don't know. I saw some of their work. It looks pretty good. So it's a toss up right now. What exactly were the problems you saw with their jobs again? I was trying to remember everything you told me when I was talking with my wife just now but couldn't remember it all. Anyway, we're still figuring this out. I'll let you know soon." Something like that would very likely get him to put it in writing. Then you have a recorded conversation AND written correspondence.

    With that, I'd get a really good business attorney to send some sort of cease and desist letter, citing the evidence I had against him. Telling him that unless he ceased bad mouthing our company there would be a lawsuit. I actually had to do that recently with a former employee last year. A little different circumstances. He thought he could quit working for us and then go contact all of our customers via email, representing his own company and trying to offer them "Better prices and service than Lewis Landscape". Unfortunately for him, he was on the wrong side of the law. At least in Oregon, that's highly illegal, regardless whether there was any kind of contract preventing this or not. Information like that is protected under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. At first, my ex-employee responded with a very arrogant reply, saying he was well within his rights and was retaining his own attorney for advice on the matter. But a few days later (presumably after he consulted with his attorney, who told him he was a friggin' idiot for doing this and trying to take on a larger company with plenty of capital to bury him in a lawsuit) he changed his tune completely. Not only did he write the letter saying he would cease and desist, as my attorney demanded. He also apologized profusely and gave back all of the notes and documents he took with him when he left.

    It's amazing what the law can do for you sometimes. Anyway, your circumstance is different. But I'd probably try a similar approach. Get him cornered to where he KNOWS you could sue the sh|t out of him. Then send him a strongly worded letter with some demands he has to meet in order to prevent you filing suit. Maybe advise him to consult with his own attorney before replying (which, if his attorney has any sense, he'll tell him to be smart and play ball and never do this again). Then if he doesn't be prepared to actually file suit. Chances are, you will never have to take it that far. But you can't do any of this unless you're serious about following through. In my case, I was dead serious about following through and I would have buried him in a lawsuit. I would have gotten a good judgement and it not only would have probably put him out of business but I'd keep pursuing him personally, if it was legal to do so, until he paid me every last dime from the judgement. The thing is, I had the resources to fight that fight - he didn't. And I knew that.

    So that's my advice. Best wishes to you. That freakin' sucks. But it's a good compliment though, if he's that desperate to put you down. You must be pretty good!
  8. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,358

    Wow! Jim FU#!ING Lewis!!!!!! I have always enjoyed reading your threads and posts but this one is just awesome. I really like the way you think and what you are saying about leveling the playing field makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the insight...
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    Suing is easier said than done.

    Especially for the average Hardscape contractor.

    Most attorneys want thousands up front.

    You go to court. Get your judgement. And you walk out with what you went in there with, plus a final bill from the atty. you don't gain a single thing, other than being out thousands in atty fees.

    Hardscaping is cut throat. For 2013 hardscaping accounts for less than 12% of my gross sales. And I've never been happier. Let the cut throat rats chase each other around.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    I don't disagree. It's not cheap to sue someone. But it's also costing him a lot of lost business to have this guy out there badmouthing his company. So if it were happening to me, I'd consider the money spent on lawsuit and attorney, money well spent. In the end, you would get the other guy to stop for good, very likely.

    On the other hand, it's highly unlikely it would ever go to court. My business attorney told me when we started this process with the ex-employee that the likelihood of this actually going to court was really low. He had done dozens of cases like mine over the years and he said he had never, yet, had to go to court. The other party had always eventually relented once they realized they were on the wrong side of the law. Which is exactly what happened in my case. I was a little worried it might cost me a few grand to put him in his place. And I wasn't happy at that prospect, but I was willing to do it, because he was specifically targeting MY clients - and I'm sorry but I'm not going to stand by and let that happen. No matter what it cost me, I was going to win this. Fortunately, it only cost me a few hundred and we got everything we wanted.

    As for hardscaping, I guess it depends on your business, your marketing, and your area. For us, it's a huge part of our business these days. Made over $1Mil. in hardscape jobs this year. Or jobs that were mostly hardscape with some landscaping too. So if I had someone targeting me on that, in this way, I'd definitely go after them. I wouldn't just say, "Whatever, that's how business goes. Life's rough" and let him get away with it. But maybe that's just me. I'm nice 95% of the time. But when I need to be, I'll be a total bulldog!

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