GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Frustrated customers say a De Pere contracting company left them with unfinished work, holes in their houses and emptied bank accounts.
Customers reached out to Target 2 Investigates for answers and help getting their money back. After months of looking into Summit Contracting, we found out the company is under criminal investigation for fraud after dozens of customers filed complaints with local and state authorities.
Target 2 heard stories from multiple customers ...
"I literally wanted to cry," says Michelle Ruggles, Amberg.
..from different communities ...
"I felt like this was a bit of a bait and switch," says Michelle Messer, Antigo.
... with the same experience.
"It's a nightmare," said Luther Sinks of Amberg. "Yep, I agree," says Michelle Ruggles.
"It's just been a nightmare," says Mary Klimczyk, Marinette County.
The complaints stretch from Marinette County, to Langlade County, to Brown County. Customers come from nearly one dozen communities in eastern Wisconsin.
"When they came on site, it just went downhill from start-to-never finishing," says Klimczyk.
Mary Klimczyk's story starts when she hired Summit Contracting to put a new roof on her vacation rental in Northern Marinette County.
Last winter's snow and ice had caused Klimczyk's roof to leak. She tells Target 2 she paid extra for higher quality ice and weather shield to prevent leaks. She agreed to have Summit Contracting replace her roof on April 30.
Klimczyk: "But they showed up a few weeks early, unannounced."
Sarah Thomsen, Target 2: "And when did they show up?"
Klimczyk: "Late at night on a Sunday. They showed up with a trailer and a big dump trailer and a pickup truck."
A very angry Klimczyk arrived early the next morning. Her roof was half-replaced.
Klimczyk has contracting and roofing experience with a local landscaping company. At the time of the roof job, she was recovering from surgery and could not do the work herself. However, she knew the products being used on her roof were not what she had paid for.
"I ripped it off and I caught them dead in their tracks, and I said, 'You need to get the right material here, and you need to get it here now,'" says Klimczyk.
Klimczyk says she repeatedly asked for paperwork showing what she paid for and what was used, but she never received it.
Klimczyk tells Target 2 she asked Summit numerous times in late spring to fix the roof, an action that is required by state law. When more crews showed up, they didn't have the right materials or tools, according to Mary. She says they used her supplies.
"They used caulking that I had here. They used saws I had here, ladders," says Klimczyk.
Mary's biggest concern is money.
"They emptied out my financial account," says Klimczyk. "I'm out thousands of dollars, and so far it's cost me thousands more to get it to where it's secure."
Fed up, Mary contacted the Marinette County Sheriff's Office. She showed Target 2 the same financing statement she gave to detectives. That statement shows a financing company paid Summit Contracting $18,000 for her roof one week after they first showed up. However, they never finished the job.
Sarah Thomsen, Target 2: "Did you sign off saying the project was complete?"
Mary Klimczyk: "No, never. I never even signed off for them to draw the money."
Mary now owes the credit company.
Sarah Thomsen, Target 2: "So you are making payments?"
Mary Klimczyk: "I have to make payments in order to keep my credit good."
Mary is not the only one.
"They started billing from the get-go. From day one," says Luther Sinks, Amberg.
Luther Sinks and Michelle Ruggles hired Summit Contracting in April to put new windows in their Amberg home. They tell us they received bills to start paying for the work before the new windows showed up at their home.
"He's [Luther] not going to mess up his credit whatsoever, so he got the bill, set it up online and started making his payments," says Ruggles.
The Summit crews arrived with screens that had holes, according to Sinks and Ruggles. They say windows were put in upside down or crooked. Michelle's daughter cut her foot on broken glass in her bedroom.
"No. It's not great at all. It's actually like he said, a nightmare," says Ruggles.
They are among dozens of Summit Contracting customers who have been in contact with multiple law enforcement and police agencies. Target 2 called every Sheriff's Office in Northeast Wisconsin. We found open criminal investigations into Summit Contracting in Marinette County, Brown County, and Manitowoc County. They're specifically looking into contractor fraud and theft--a felony when more than $2,500 is involved.
Sheboygan County officials confirm a contractor fraud complaint was filed over the summer, but there's been no outcome.
Antigo resident Michelle Messer filed a complaint with Antigo Police about Summit Contracting.
"I feel like this constitutes fraud," says Messer.
Messer says she ordered a high-end metal roof, but that's not what showed up in her yard.
"We paid for PAC-CLAD, which is a completely different company."
Messer demanded a refund. She received one, but the roofing material is still sitting in her yard. She's been stuck trying to repair the leaking roof and the mess it caused from a collapsed ceiling.
"I was so mad. I was like, this is not... uh-uh... this is not going to work. Not going to happen," says Messer.
Target 2 also spoke with nearly a dozen more customers of Summit Contracting.
We dug into the company's history and found six complaints filed with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection within the last month.
The Better Business Bureau tells Target 2 it has 16 current complaints on the De Pere-based company.
Target 2 was fist contacted in June to look into Summit Contracting. At that time, the company had an A+ rating from the BBB. Later, a pattern of alert was placed on the company. It dropped to a "no rating." Last week, it dropped to a "C" rating. Summit Contracting is no longer accredited by the BBB.
Summit Contracting's BBB profile says it has been in business since 2009. Target 2 filed records with the state and found out the company was registered in September of 2018. That's one month before the BBB says it received its first complaint about Summit Contracting.
Target 2 called Summit Contracting and asked to speak with owners Chad Schampers and Nate Smith. Their lawyers told us one of the owners would grant us an interview. However, they decided late Tuesday that they would not talk with us.
The lawyers told us by phone that the company is "young" and "isn't perfect"--but it's "not an integrity issue."
One lawyer tells us Summit Contracting has done $10 million in business in its first year and is a "success story." The lawyer says Summit has completed 1,000 contracts in just over a year. The lawyer says the company has dealt with high turnover and had to let go problem employees.
The lawyer says Summit Contracting stopped using the financing company that allowed the firm to be paid before work was complete.
Target 2 asked specifically about the criminal investigations and complaints of contractor fraud. The company's attorney says Summit "would deny there has been any contractor fraud." No charges have been filed.
Summit's second lawyer says, "Despite requests, the U.S. Attorney's Office is unable to articulate specific allegations."
U.S. Attorney's Office Public Information Officer Kenneth Gales tells Target 2, “Consistent with US DOJ policy, the U.S. Attorney's Office does not comment on the status of potential investigations."
Both attorneys say Smith and Schampers have tried to fix problems, but some customers will no longer return their phone calls, making it "impossible to remedy the situation."
Investigations in three counties are active.
Summit Contracting remains in business.
If you have a problem, you can file a complaint with Consumer Protection. CLICK HERE to file your complaint online.
CLICK HERE to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
For tips on hiring a contractor, CLICK HERE
If you have experiences or questions about contractors, you can email us at email@example.com