Whistle Blowers Get Few Results

Another fantastic article by Jim ( “Unlicensed Contractors Get Stung,” October 2010) and I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the whistle blowing that he suggests doesn’t do a bit of good in regards to service contractors. The California Contractors State Licensing Board doesn’t even try to hide the fact that if you can’t provide them with a jobsite location where you know an unlicensed contractor will be at for several weeks in a row, it won’t even bother.

Case in point: I contacted the CSLB regarding a known unlicensed service contractor. I provided the contractor’s contact information and business card. I had even provided the board with addresses of prior work the contractor had completed without a license. The CSLB was very upfront that it was not going to do anything regarding the violator unless I could provide a jobsite where he was performing ongoing work. Seeing as most service and repair contractors move from jobsite to jobsite on a daily basis, there is no recourse for these scofflaws. 

It seems the CSLB would rather utilize its resources to routinely suspend licenses when legitimate contractors’ insurance agencies inadvertently forget to update their clients’ insurance certificates.

Michael Moffett
Tom Moffett Plumbing
Placentia, Calif.

Put Unlicensed Contractors On Notice

Jim Olsztynski again rejuvenated my enthusiasm with his “right-on-the-money” article in the October 2010 issue of Plumbing & Mechanical ( “Unlicensed Contractors Get Stung”). Hurrah. Finally, a strategic and valid approach to addressing a monumental and incredibly unfair circumstance that pounds on the legitimate contractors and lets the “posers” fly under the radar. If you’re “faking it” and operating in the shadows, why bother paying the fees, obeying the rules or behaving responsibly?

The targets of the sting are extremely deserving of getting stung and facing the serious consequences of being a scofflaw - and ignorance is, as always, no excuse. Moreover, I suspect most of those unlawfully operating in the fringe of our industry do so deliberately … precisely because it’s easier and cheaper.

Jim hit on all the points correctly, admirably and thoroughly, and summed it up with this passage: “Laws that go unenforced are worse than no laws at all, because they engender disrespect for the law. Where license laws are routinely circumvented with little threat of penalty, those jurisdictions might be better off with no licensing law at all. At least that way the conscientious contractors would have a level playing field with those who don’t give a hoot.” Amen.

The Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Authority of Northern Illinois and the Illinois PHCC have teamed up in recent years to put the posers on notice, particularly those who tout “plumbing” work among their long list of semi-qualified “services” in the absence of a license. We send them an explanatory letter accompanied by a copy of the Illinois Plumbing License law, while also helpfully pointing out that although they certainly must have obtained a license to do this kind of work, they are furthermore required to display a legitimate plumbing license (and, by the way, actually be licensed as a contractor).

We ask our affiliated contractors and the members of our signatory local unions to keep an eye out, and notify our office of ads and truck decals that fail to feature a plumbing license number while promoting plumbing work. It’s an ongoing effort that I know the entire legitimate industry is active in uncovering and addressing. Clown time is over. Surprisingly enough, we’ve experienced success in several cases - and subsequently received apologies and newly formatted ads that “adjust” for the lack of a license. But frankly, we’re barely scratching the surface of a deep and treacherous epidemic.

A sting operation in Illinois such as Jim’s column described in Southern California is appropriate, badly needed and way overdue. You can bet that PAMCANI will look into getting the right parties involved and engaged.

S.J. Peters
Executive Director
PAMCANI

A Little Inspiration

One may ask, “Where’s the money?” I am telling you that the money is there, and it’s still waiting for us. It is in the customer relationships we are keeping and building. Most importantly, it is in the new customer relationships we are currently creating wherever we are.

If we can each make it a point to shake the hand of at least two people every day - after work, during lunch, during work - we cannot fail. People we do not know, people we can bring into our circle.

The company that creates this type of teamwork and employee behavior will go a long way in times like today and have financial success. And so will each employee.

So where’s the money, you ask?

It is with you, my friend. Just waiting…for the prayer, the faith, the belief and just a little bit of action.

Jeff W. Gillespie
Plumbing By Curtis
Phoenix, Ariz.

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