I’ve been holding my tongue on this subject for quite awhile now; however, the time has come to bring it up. Order Mills are the bane of REO/PP work. These bottom feeder ilk go and land contracts with Top Tier providers and then funnel them out to the real Contractors doing the work. These paper shuffling gin joints make me sick! Each and every time a new contract rolls out and generally throughout the lifetime of that contract these parasites suck the very life blood out of the dedicated men and women whom perform the day-to-day tasks of Property Preservation.
Here’s the deal: the vast majority of these people set up shop in the very same areas where the HUD Contract Awardee is located. So, the real question presents itself. Is there a symbiotic relationship; does one hand proverbially grease the other?
We recently had one of these clowns contact us with a solicitation stating that they had been awarded HUD Contracts. They asked us to sign on and get all of our Contractors to do the same. When I called to find out what was going on my ears were assaulted by a lady whom spoke English as a Second Language (ESL). First and foremost, if you’re going to do business in the United States master the English language. Here’s why: when you misspeak a term or legal phrase you enter into a snake pit of litigation. Second, while ESL may fly in some parts of the country the areas we live and work in require clear English. This is not a racial overtone; it is a statement of fact as many of the Appalachian folk become frustrated when they cannot understand why a person does not understand what they are saying.
We forwarded this information to PK Management with our concerns (the same concerns which were voiced in initial conversations) that a Florida based company was speaking on their behalf; that they were waiving all requirements pertaining to 188.8.131.52 (pre and post conveyance pertaining to specific addresses); had listed their company in the pay sheet inferring collaboration; and that their initial contact stated they were in control of HUD contracts. One ventures the question, also, how did they get my personal email?
PK Management was quick to reply that they did not give control of over the HUD Contract to them and they would look into the matter. The problem, overall, is this: when all work is now being channeled through one provider the ability for bulk assignments to Order Mills becomes far more possible than in the past. Each and every Contractor we deal with (well over one hundred now) all vocalize the same concerns. “What is to prevent the mass assignment of orders to these people and kickbacks out the back door,” was a Comment we recently had posted. The only answer is that there is no guarantee of work in this industry … at least on the HUD end.
To make sure that sure that everyone is on the same page, the Initial Sales Clean pays $45 for 2000sqft and a 15000sqft Initial Grass Cut pays $40. These are the specific quotes for the PK Management column. $15 for a lock change or ONLY $12.50 if you do them as a set!!!!!!! If the intention is to scare away all of the Veteran Field Contractors, then this company is doing a great job! Make absolutely no mistake that I am not going to go to Mountain City, Tennessee, and change a lock for $12.50! I am not implying that PK Management is asking us to; however, what I am saying is that the hypothetical is rapidly approaching a reality in mass emails such as these.
Our current position to both our Contractors and membership has been to take a wait-and-see approach. HUD ML 2012-21 has extended its position on ML 2012-11 through 01JAN13. This appears to coincide with PK Management’s start date. With that said, if you are intending to attend the East Tennessee Property Preservation Guild Quarterly Meeting ensure that your voice is heard by informing your delegate. This Quarterly Meeting will probably be the most important meeting we have ever had as it will determine the course of recommendation to all Middle and East Tennessee Contractors as how to proceed with respects to this situation.
We are not yet at the point of suggesting any type of Sherman Act improprieties; what we are driving at is that in an industry where the exploitation of the labor force has little or no recourse it becomes both wise and prudent to closely examine with whom one is doing business with. The Order Mills have been and will always be fly-by-night outfits. They are tacitly allowed Contracts while never overtly acknowledged. The Craigslist types will always flock to them as they do not require an in-field meeting thus allowing the sad state of affairs the HUD OIG Report just released in September.
While we are loathe to recommend a course of action to any parties outside the scope of the Guild, we would highly recommend that they closely examine any Subcontractor Agreements to ensure that the originate from PK Management. All properly credentialed Contractors are free to Petition For Apprenticeship into the Guild should they feel more comfortable in a collective setting. While it does not ensure your ability to receive work it allows you access to our daily digests, access to our dossiers of data and the ability to begin to determine the future of Property Preservation at the Contractor level.