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to have a good working ….

to have a good working …. to have a good working ….

to have a good working relationship with SCP. We do business with SCP every day, including today, and make regular payments to them to cover current jobs and our previous balance. In the last 30 days, we have paid SCP more than $145,000, of which nearly half was towards the balance on our line of credit.“ News channels were also reporting that pool owners with incomplete pools were receiving certified letters from Olympus Pool’s subcontractors requiring payment on work they completed at the pools, despite having already paid Olympus for the work.

All the while, Staten publicly insisted that his company was completing multiple pools every day and promised that every job would be finished.

By the end of May, a light appeared at the end of the tunnel for Olympus Pools with the announcement of a partnership with Jordan Hidalgo, general contractor and owner of Pools by Jordan, The Pool Consultants, and several other pool companies.

In an interview with “Better Call Behnken,” Hidalgo said, “I saw what Olympus’s customers were going through on the news, but I also know the high quality of Olympus’s work and their capabilities. So, after weeks of negotiations, I’m happy to say we’ve reached an agreement, and we’re excited to get to work on sorting this all out.”

“There’s no denying a guy who built thousands of pools has got what it takes to make it in this business,” Hidalgo said. “Meanwhile, the vendors and some others in the media aren’t helping his attempts to right the ship. As a pool professional, I can’t stand by and watch that happen without doing what I can for the clients and the builder. Every person should get what they expected and what they paid for, though it’s going to take some time.”

Admitting that they still had hundreds of pools to complete, Staten again pointed to the thousands Olympus had successfully finished and said he hoped to have the existing pools done by Christmas, 2021.

Then on July 1, SCP dropped their lawsuit against Olympus when the two companies reached a settlement agreement and agreed to continue working together.

“This is a major accomplishment and step forward that will hopefully offer some much-needed peace of mind to our customers and subcontractors,” Staten said.

But the reprieve was short-lived when the following day, Florida’s Department of Financial Services issued a stop work order for failure to carry worker’s compensation insurance, requiring that the company close until proof of insurance was sent to the state along with a fine of at least $1,000.

In a statement to its customers, Olympus Pools explained the situation: “Please note, there are many posts and comments regarding a statement made by a worker from Florida’s Division of Workers Compensation stating we do not have worker’s compensation insurance. Despite what you are hearing and reading, WE DO CURRENTLY HAVEANACTIVE WORKERS COMP INSURANCE POLICY IN PLACE. Our previous coverage had temporarily lapsed due to missed payment and the financial struggles we had been going through. However, our previous balance was paid in full earlier this week. During that process, we have also changed workers comp insurance carriers, and the state of Florida had not received the updated policy information yet. We have provided them with the certificate of insurance today. We apologize for any added frustration or inconvenience this may have caused. It is also important to note that most workers you see at your property are subcontractors with their own workers comp policies.”

July brought more bad news for Olympus Pools and its customers.

On July 20, news channels were reporting that RAB, Inc., a national commercial collections company, had sent out 40 “Notice of Intent to Foreclose” letters to Olympus Pools customers, with more notices planned. The certified letters were a last-ditch effort by subcontractors seeking payment for completed work on Olympus Pools jobs. The letters gave Olympus and/or its customers 45 days to pay the debt before foreclosure lawsuits be filed.

For homeowners, the bottom line is that if Olympus doesn’t satisfy the liens,

The number of permits pulled in 2019 and 2020. Image credit: Wfla.com.

they’ll have to pay twice for unfinished pools or else face a lawsuit.

On the same day, Jordon Hidalgo, the general contractor who stepped in to help Olympus get back on track in May, announced that he was severing ties with the company.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s office continued to actively review 150 customer complaints filed against the company.

On July 24, Staten himself pulled the plug on Olympus pools when he announced that he had signed a settlement agreement with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, voluntarily relinquishing his business license. The agreement stipulated that Staten would have to pay fines of $1.43 million in order to obtain a Florida license again.

On its Facebook page, the company announced that it would be closing its doors: “Over the last several months at Olympus Pools, we have endured constant negative media coverage encouraging viewers to file complaints with Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. As a result, the DBPR has forced us to voluntarily relinquish our license. This means we are no longer allowed to continue working for any of our customers. We have fought hard and would have continued to do so for as long it took to complete every project.

Although we are greatly disappointed in the decision, we understand the pressure that has been placed on the Department to act. We do not feel the decision is beneficial to our community or our customers, however, it was not our decision to make. If it were up to us, we would continue working for our customers.

We have enjoyed servicing the Tampa Bay area for close to 10 years. We are proud of the thousands of projects we have built and the work we have done for our community in that time. We are grateful for all of the support the vast majority of our former customers, employees, friends, family, and neighbors have shown us during this time.”

In September, SCP obtained a $1 million judgment against Staten, a judgment that allowed SCP to get a garnishment and freeze the money in Staten’s personal bank account.

So, on October 1, Staten and his wife filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They filed for personal bankruptcy protection in part because SCP is one of the Statens’ largest creditors, their attorney Joel Aresty said.

The filing faults a combination of unexpected delays in permitting, the rainy season, a labor and materials shortage, and staff members.

It also specifies that the negative media attention Olympus pools was receiving impacted its ability to secure additional financing.

“Lyon Financial provides third-party financing to customers building a pool,” court papers state. “They refused to fund, and at the time of the closure in July of 2021, they hadn’t paid Olympus in five months. This includes finished work.”

The filing points to “Better Call Behnken’s” extensive coverage of Olympus pools, where at “the end of each news story, viewers were encouraged to complain to the DBPR and the Attorney General’s office.”

Court records state that Staten drained his 401K account and sold off possessions in an attempt to keep his business afloat. Furthermore, because of their tarnished reputation, the filing says Staten and his family pulled their children from school and moved out of the area.

To pay the creditors listed in the filing, this October, the Statens listed their $3.25 million home and the Olympus Pools building for $1.9 million.

But the machine that has Staten gripped in its wheels and cogs isn’t done with him yet.

On October 13, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office announced that she is “taking legal action against a Florida pool company and its owner for taking upfront payments and leaving jobs incomplete.”

“Floridians paid thousands of dollars upfront in order to have pools professionally constructed on their properties,” Moody said. “What many received in exchange for these huge payments were incomplete pools and a lack of funds to pay another company to complete the work. We will not permit these deceptive trade practices in Florida,

Pictures of unfinished pools by Olympus Pools. Image credit: Wfla.com.

and my Consumer Protection Division is taking action to stop these practices and secure relief for those harmed by the defendants.”

Since March of this year, the Attorney General’s Office said it has received more than 200 consumer complaints against Olympus Pools, amounting to an alleged total loss of $8 million. The civil action seeks to permanently ban the defendants from engaging in certain activities related to the pool construction business. The action also aims to require the company and its owners to provide restitution or reimbursement to affected consumers. In addition, the defendants could be liable for more than $2 million in civil penalties for violating the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

At the end of the day, Staten has lost nearly everything.

Because he sold more than he could deliver, Staten has lost his business, his home, his reputation, and may lose his ability to work in the industry. But is he guilty of fraud? Of deceptive trade?

To this, many pool professionals answer in the affirmative, or at the very least, that Staten is guilty of greed, biting off far more than he could chew, leaving in his wake unpaid subcontractors and devastated homeowners.

Staten has blamed his fall in part on the repercussions of the pandemic, which have included extreme supply chain interruptions and unprecedented demand for pools.

For more than a decade, Staten ran a pool construction company with apparent success, but it looks like the pandemic revealed a business model destined for failure.

The courts will determine the ultimate price he will pay.

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