BURLINGTON, N.C. — FOX8 continues to uncover unfinished business related to American Kitchen, the remodeling company that closed its doors in Burlington last Thursday.
Tuesday, FOX8 shared the story of customers left without a kitchen after they paid thousands of dollars for a job never done.
The Better Business Bureau and Attorney General’s Office are both investigating complaints.
Connection to Kitchen Carolina
According to information from the BBB and several documents FOX8 found, there is a connection between American Kitchen and a separate former remodeling company called Kitchen Carolina.
Tyler Sheets, the President of American Kitchen, also worked with Kitchen Carolina.
Michael Henson with BBB of Central North Carolina, explained to FOX8 why Kitchen Carolina closed.
“Ultimately, they grew too large too fast and ended up subcontracting a lot of their jobs to crews who could not complete the jobs properly. They were not able to handle all of their consumer disputes and ultimately went out of business,” he said.
Henson added, Sheets started American Kitchen as a separate entity in 2010 and began seeking accreditation from the BBB at that time.
“Due to his connection to Kitchen Carolina, we required American Kitchen to develop a three year track record with our office before we would consider them for accreditation. Ultimately, American Kitchen demonstrated the ability to resolve disputes and handle consumer problems as they arose and we allowed them to apply for accreditation in the fall of 2013,” Henson said in an email.
But last week, the BBB got a spike in complaints about American Kitchen after the company laid off employees Thursday.
Customers across the state were left with incomplete work on their kitchen renovations.
Contractor owed money
Both employees and contractors that worked with American Kitchen say the company owes them money.
Nathan Parsons is the general manager of Mo Stone, Inc. in Thomasville. His company did contract work with both Carolina Kitchen and, more recently, American Kitchen.
“American Kitchen for us last year was close to 30 percent of our overall gross revenue per month. We were doing anywhere from three to five kitchens a week for them,” he said.
Mo Stone, Inc. was one of the contractors that installed granite countertops toward the end of the remodeling process.
“For us to come in and put the countertops down, we always got to hear the horror story. Or the fact that the homeowner was already exhausted mentally, physically, financially. For us it was so sad to see that and all we could really do is put our best face forward.”
Parsons says at one point American Kitchen owed Mo Stone, Inc. half a month’s gross sales revenue. He said they paid back 75 percent of funds owed over the last ten months.
Ultimately Mo Stone, Inc. cut ties with American Kitchen, Parson explained, because they simply weren’t getting paid enough money on time.
“American Kitchen does still owe us money. Is it a lot of money? No. But it’s the principle. We did work. The work was satisfactory, so we need to get paid,” Parsons insisted.
FOX8 has now talked to more than twelve homeowners who confirmed they were customers of American Kitchen. Calls and emails are still coming into our newsroom.
One person was satisfied with his kitchen but said it took a long time to complete.
The rest of the customers we’ve spoken with were unhappy with American Kitchen because they paid anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 to the company and still have incomplete kitchens.
No answers from company president
FOX8 went to Tyler Sheets’ home in Graham Wednesday.
There were people at the house, but no one would answer the door to explain what’s going on with American Kitchen.
“I actually spoke with Mr. Tyler Sheets yesterday morning,” Parsons said. “He was obviously quite shaken as to how everything has crashed on him so quickly.”
Liens on customers’ homes
Triad homeowners are shaken too.
Three American Kitchen customers we talked to received certified letters in the mail in June from a cabinet company called J.S.International, Inc.
JSI filed liens against customers’ homes saying they still owed thousands of dollars for cabinets.
But all three homeowners said they did pay money to American Kitchen for the cabinets.
It’s unclear where the money went.
Thomas Kilpatrick with Kilpatrick Law Group, PLLC represents JSI.
Kilpatrick said in several cases, JSI was not paid by American Kitchen. According to North Carolina law, he said they had to file the liens to meet a 190 day timeline in effort to recoup money owed to JSI.
Kilpatrick said they are working with homeowners on a one-on-one basis. If there is proof the customers paid American Kitchen for the cabinets, he said the lien will be canceled.
“We don’t want to make this situation any harder on these homeowners,” Kilpatrick added.
FOX8 told Kilpatrick American Kitchen was closed down. He said they’ll continue be looking at other ways to pursue the money the company owes JSI.