Select Reputable Contractor
Buyer Beware! When it comes to basement waterproofing, AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation are specialist in serving up baloney. From lying salesmen, to misleading website advertisement, they are the masters. If you want an honest assessment of what needs to be done, followed by professional workmanship, look elsewhere. In this posting we’ll look at how they put themselves forward as a “family run business” when nothing could be further from the truth.
When the AquaGuard disaster hit my home I thought this must be a simple, although incredible stupid, mistake. When AquaGuard initially denied there was a problem, indeed they tried to convince me they had done me a favor, I figured I was dealing with employees simply trying to cover up their mistakes. At that point I knew I needed to reach the family ownership. Surely they would be shocked and move quickly. When I reached the General Manager, who is also listed as “Owner”, I was confident the problems would be addressed. Instead I experienced more delays and when they finally acted it made matters worst. This was not remotely like any other experience I’ve had with a true family owned business. I couldn’t believe this was deception on their part so what was going on?
I love dealing with family businesses and have had great experiences with them. Back in the early eighties we’d only been in our “new” home for a short time. It’s an old structure built around 1920 and needed a little tender love and care. We asked around and found a father-son plumbing business to update and re-route sewage lines in our home. The “Dad” came over and asked if he could stay awhile and poke around, as he was “sort of retired” and spent his days scoping out jobs, writing them up, and sending his son (or was it sons?) over to do the work. The guy, his family, and the business were everything I could hope for.
There are many intangibles above that are hard to capture, but let me try. The plumbers I hired are a true family business, at least as I understand the term. The owners and workers are directly related, value their good name and reputation consequently standing by their work and acting with integrity and honesty. Of course being a family owned and/or run business guarantees none of that. Nor are they cheap but I for one am willing to pay their price. I’ve had several such experiences and similar results. Not so with AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation. Then again, are they really a family owned business? Why did I think AquaGuard was a family-owned business? Let’s explore these questions and others.
First, why would anyone think AquaGuard is a family owned business? Because that is exactly what AquaGuard says they are on their slick web site. It is also what their “Aw shucks” senior inspector (more on what it means to be a “Senior Inspector” at AquaGuard in a following post) told us when he visited our home and induced us to sign a contract. What is the truth? I have the sworn comments of AquaGuard’s General Manager as given at his deposition. See General Manager Deposition on the linked page. The following are direct quotes. See pg 4: 14-21 and pg 5: 1-14, where “Q” is a question and “A” is the answer provided by the General Manager. From the deposition:
The questioning went on to establish the names of the other owners. The General Manager had a 5% ownership, i.e., not a majority ownership. Are the other three owners related? Nothing in their biographies that I’ve found online suggests they are. Even their titles, responsibilities, etc of the other owners are difficult to keep straight, at least for me. For example, on various sites one can find the names of AquaGuard’s “President” and “Vice President” associated with two other individuals in another Limited Liability Corporation but there’s nothing to suggest they are related or that this other partnership is a family owned business. The truth may be simpler than any possible family relationships between the four owners, but I leave it to others to discover the truth. I can say that AquaGuard didn’t act like any family owned business I’ve every had the pleasure of dealing with.
Second, what does it mean to be a family owned business? One can get various opinions from searching the web. Here are a couple of examples:
1). US Legal: The link takes you to the US Legal home page. You’ll have to search for “family owned business”. While interesting, this information should be taken as informational only.
2). The Small Business Advancement National Center has a number of documents on Family Businesses. The site itself was designed and implemented at the University of Central Arkansas. They have graciously given me permission to provide the following link to “What Constitutes a Family Business?” The existence of such a paper in itself, and the apparent lengthy research that it purports to have done shows how difficult it is to come to anything like a firm “definition”.
I leave it to you, dear reader, to form your own opinions. We live in an era where the definition of family itself is evolving. One shouldn’t be surprised that the business community has their own notions. I will close by noting that my experiences with AquaGuard were extremely unpleasant and not remotely like those I’ve had with any other family owned business.