COURTESY OF PATRICK MILLIUS
Leaks inside the attic are clearly evident in the Beaverton, Ore., home of Patrick Millius. CLICK FOR LARGE
Roofer agrees to settle class-action suit
A proposed agreement may bring closure
A pending class-action settlement may soon bring some Hawaii consumers closure six years after a Canadian roofing contractor closed up shop, leaving them with leaky roofs, useless lifetime warranties and, in some cases, large debts.
Mark Wenzel, owner of Interlock Industries, Future Roof and several other aluminum roof manufacturing and installation companies, said he has agreed to pay $1.2 million in cash and a range of $15,000 to $17,000 a month for the next eight years to settle a class-action suit filed by Hawaii consumers. A hearing to approve the settlement is scheduled for April 20, said Kailua attorney George Ashford Jr., who represents the class.
"We're happy that we are able to have some closures on this and provide some money to people who purchased an Interlock Roofing system in Hawaii, and that we, as an organization, can move forward," Wenzel said.
However, Hawaii consumers aren't the only victims making noise about Mark Wenzel and his father Ivor, who along with their companies have gotten complaints from consumers in several states. The Wenzel family has operated roofing installation or supply companies in Canada, Alaska, Washington, California, Oregon and New York.
The Hawaii Regulated Industries Complaints Office, which enforces professional licensing laws in this state, began investigating Interlock Industries in 2001 after the company closed its Hawaii office shortly after 9/11. A state order found that Interlock Industries and the Wenzels, who installed some 2,700 roofs in Hawaii from 1997 to 2001, failed "to maintain a record or history of competency, trustworthiness, fair dealing and financial integrity."
Consumers said Interlock left them with leaky roofs and useless lifetime warranties when it closed its Hawaii office. It also left them with bad credit and pursued liens on homes when some owners defaulted on high-interest, in-house financing deals.
Claims against Interlock in Hawaii and elsewhere have been greatly exaggerated, said Wenzel, who claims that his company only installed 740 roofs during its tenure in Hawaii.
Wenzel refused to disclose a list of all the companies that he owns. However, records from the United States Patent and Trademark Office attribute ownership of the trademarks for Interlock, Future Roof, The Super Roof, and Fin.all -The Super Roof, Alunar, super tile, to a common parent company I.E.L. Manufacturing Ltd. of Canada. According to the USPTO, a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Wenzel's own Web sites for Interlock and Future Roof also register the logos to I.E.L. Manufacturing Ltd.
"If you look at the number of jobs in relation to what various Interlock Industries (outlets) have done, we have tons of satisfied customers all over North America," Wenzel said.
COURTESY OF PATRICK MILLIUS
"When I saw the stuff about Hawaii on the Internet, I knew that it was the same deal that happened here."
Beaverton, Ore., carpenter and leaky roof victim
CLICK FOR LARGE
Patrick Millius, a Beaverton, Ore., carpenter, said he has grown frustrated petitioning International Exteriors Ltd.
to fix his leaky roof since 1996. This Wenzel-owned company was named a defendant in the Hawaii class-action suit along with Interlock Industries, Delta Building Products Ltd.
, INTERLock Roofing Ltd.
and Interlock Industries (B.C.) Ltd.
, a Wenzel-affiliated company.
Millius, who has asked the civil enforcement division of Oregon's Department of Justice to investigate Wenzel, has been following the struggles of Hawaii consumers since they were first publicized in 2005.
"My contract said that the company also had an office in Hawaii," Millius said. "When I saw the stuff about Hawaii on the Internet, I knew that it was the same deal that happened here."
Millius said that he has documented his dialogue with the Wenzel-owned company for the past decade and is getting ready to launch a consumer advocacy Web site and support group to provide resources to other metal-roofing victims.
"They promised us that this would be the last roof that we would ever put on our house, and then they quietly closed their office," he said.
Millius, whose company-financed roof could have cost him $52,800 if he had not rolled it into his refinanced mortgage, said Interlock personnel responded to his complaints when his International Exteriors Ltd. roof failed, but that to date the company has not resolved his problem.
"It's been a real nightmare," said Millius, who eventually filed bankruptcy when he couldn't sell his house because of its still leaky roof.
Tim Burge, a Seattle resident, said he's also grappling with a five-year-old roofing complaint involving Fin.all. Burge, who paid $20,000 to put a roof on his home five years ago, said the roof is falling apart and leaking. When he tried to get the company to honor his warranty, he was told that they had gone out of business, he said.
"Here, I thought I was buying a lifetime warranty, but the company is gone," Burge said.
That appears to be a company pattern, said Ricky King, the former installation manager for Interlock Industries in Hawaii, who said that he also has been victimized by the company that he spent a decade working for here and in Canada.
King, a Canadian national, said that he's struggled to rebuild his credit and his career since the company skipped town and left him holding the bag.
"I showed up at the office one morning to find that there were three semis outside and that it was dismantled," said King. "They gave me a severance check and left me to handle all of the outstanding complaints in Hawaii."
In talking with other Wenzel employees following his dismissal from the company, King said he's heard of similar cases in other regions.
"They leave whenever the berry patch dries up," he said, adding that to his knowledge Interlock, Future Roof, Fin.all, Super Roof, IEL Manufacturing Ltd., and International Exteriors Ltd. are all company names affiliated with the Wenzels.
After Interlock left Hawaii, King said that he has struggled to support his wife and four children because his reputation had been marred by Interlock and by the state. Most of the damage inflicted by Interlock was attributed to King because the Wenzels operated their business on the Hawaii license that they required him to obtain, he said.
"I believe that they used me," King said. "They didn't bring me to Hawaii until there were already tons of complaints. I attempted to fix all the problems, but I think it got too expensive for them so they decided to pull out."
The Hawaii DCCA fined King $500 for failing to report the company's change of address to authorities within 10 days of its closing in 2001. King was excluded from more serious charges because of his efforts to assist homeowners, the order said.
King paid his fine and cooperated with state investigators after the company left town and helped bring the class action forward, but is now being penalizing by the state, Ashford said.
"I wouldn't have known about this case without Ricky King," he said.
Ashford is asking the state to remove 18 Interlock-related complaints for defective work or failing to honor warranties that they have placed against King's license.
"He was just a paid employee. He never personally worked on these cases," Ashford said.
However, Wenzel maintains that most of Interlock's problems in Hawaii were related to the state's economy, which was reeling from the events of 9/11, and installation, which fell under King's jurisdiction.
"The important thing to note is that the issues with Interlock Industries in Hawaii did not revolve around the actual aluminum roofing product, but rather the issues were about bonding and installation," Wenzel said. "The product is a very, very good product."
Wenzel said that he has enhanced customer service since buying out his father's interest in Interlock. Since the trouble in Hawaii, Interlock has improved training of installers and implemented a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week call center for customers, he said.