Alleged monkey business in the awning industry

awning1One awning company thinks a competitor snuck into the Richmond market illegitimately. And tempers are flaring.

Petersburg-based Roberts Awning is occupying the old Norvell Awning company headquarters in the Scott’s Addition section of Richmond.

Roberts is also calling back customers who call Norvell Awning, which filed for bankruptcy July 10. (You can read about that here.)

Bill McSpadden, chief executive of Capitol Awning, said that Roberts Awning had moved into the Norvell office on Arlington road and that Roberts had been using Norvell assets such as contact lists and customer files, which gives them an unfair advantage.

He said those assets should be auctioned off to pay creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. Norvell had 46 creditors who are owed about $1,026,000. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, some customers had paid for new awnings and had not received the product or work.

“We request that the trustee secure the premises immediately and demand return of all proprietary customer data, and require Roberts Awning to return any customer data and enjoin them from using any such data,” McSpadden wrote in a legal note.

“Those records are assets,” McSpadden told BizSense. “They should go back to paying off the creditors and should be sold to whoever wants to buy them. They shouldn’t just be available to whoever comes along first.”

Roberts Awning Company denied that they had any unfair advantage and denied acquiring company assets.

“What assets?” said Karen Kovacks, who is temporarily working at Roberts Awning. “When we got here, the office was a wreck. All the equipment was already sent to the dump, and the records they did have were in such bad shape they were practically useless.

“We’re not getting anything for free.”

Kovacks’ roots in the awning business go back generations. Her  great-grandfather C.B. Norvell started Norvell Awning in 1899, and she works for Roberts Awning, founded by the Roberts family in 1912. Kovacks and her father, Buddy Kovacks, occupied the old Norvell office two weeks ago after Norvell Awning filed for bankruptcy. Buddy Kovacks ran Norvell Awning for decades before selling in the 1980s to John Watkins, who ran the company for 15 years.

Watkins brought Richard Reynolds IV on as a business partner and was later bought out.

Buddy and Karen Kovacks moved up to Richmond and are attempting to clear their family’s name by going back and finishing work that Reynolds had left unfinished, Kovacks said.

“Bud Johnson [Owner of Roberts Awning] has been doing this out of the kindness of his heart,” Kovacks said. “And he has been doing it at a huge financial loss.”

Kovacks said that Roberts Awning has not been listening to messages on Norvell’s answering machine or fielding phone calls for the defunct company. She said the numbers had been obtained through attorneys involved in Norvell’s bankruptcy.

Kovacks said that Roberts Awning had taken over the lease from Norvell and that Roberts Awning had hired two former employees from Norvell Awning.

Neither Bruce Matson, trustee for the creditors, nor Robert Westerman, Reynolds’ lawyer, returned multiple calls for comment by press time.

David Larter covers small business for BizSense. Please send news tips to [email protected]

awning1One awning company thinks a competitor snuck into the Richmond market illegitimately. And tempers are flaring.

Petersburg-based Roberts Awning is occupying the old Norvell Awning company headquarters in the Scott’s Addition section of Richmond.

Roberts is also calling back customers who call Norvell Awning, which filed for bankruptcy July 10. (You can read about that here.)

Bill McSpadden, chief executive of Capitol Awning, said that Roberts Awning had moved into the Norvell office on Arlington road and that Roberts had been using Norvell assets such as contact lists and customer files, which gives them an unfair advantage.

He said those assets should be auctioned off to pay creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. Norvell had 46 creditors who are owed about $1,026,000. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, some customers had paid for new awnings and had not received the product or work.

“We request that the trustee secure the premises immediately and demand return of all proprietary customer data, and require Roberts Awning to return any customer data and enjoin them from using any such data,” McSpadden wrote in a legal note.

“Those records are assets,” McSpadden told BizSense. “They should go back to paying off the creditors and should be sold to whoever wants to buy them. They shouldn’t just be available to whoever comes along first.”

Roberts Awning Company denied that they had any unfair advantage and denied acquiring company assets.

“What assets?” said Karen Kovacks, who is temporarily working at Roberts Awning. “When we got here, the office was a wreck. All the equipment was already sent to the dump, and the records they did have were in such bad shape they were practically useless.

“We’re not getting anything for free.”

Kovacks’ roots in the awning business go back generations. Her  great-grandfather C.B. Norvell started Norvell Awning in 1899, and she works for Roberts Awning, founded by the Roberts family in 1912. Kovacks and her father, Buddy Kovacks, occupied the old Norvell office two weeks ago after Norvell Awning filed for bankruptcy. Buddy Kovacks ran Norvell Awning for decades before selling in the 1980s to John Watkins, who ran the company for 15 years.

Watkins brought Richard Reynolds IV on as a business partner and was later bought out.

Buddy and Karen Kovacks moved up to Richmond and are attempting to clear their family’s name by going back and finishing work that Reynolds had left unfinished, Kovacks said.

“Bud Johnson [Owner of Roberts Awning] has been doing this out of the kindness of his heart,” Kovacks said. “And he has been doing it at a huge financial loss.”

Kovacks said that Roberts Awning has not been listening to messages on Norvell’s answering machine or fielding phone calls for the defunct company. She said the numbers had been obtained through attorneys involved in Norvell’s bankruptcy.

Kovacks said that Roberts Awning had taken over the lease from Norvell and that Roberts Awning had hired two former employees from Norvell Awning.

Neither Bruce Matson, trustee for the creditors, nor Robert Westerman, Reynolds’ lawyer, returned multiple calls for comment by press time.

David Larter covers small business for BizSense. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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Chris
Chris
13 years ago

How does one awning company “sneak” into the Richmond market? Looks to me like one company is filling the vacuum from the demise of another company and a competitor doesn’t like it. You see this type of situation play out everyday…on playgrounds.

HARRY DAVIS
HARRY DAVIS
13 years ago

This whole thing is border line fraud.

Richard Reynolds, out & out lied to me about my deposit for work never intended to be done. He stated materials had been ordered and therefore could not refund my deposit.

When I sent an email to Dianne Walker at Channel 12, he called within 30 minutes & asked what I had told her, He then went on to say he was going to get my awning installed.

Never happened, never received even the courtsey of a call about what was going on.

The guy is “less than a thief”.

Harry Davis

Jon
Jon
13 years ago

I called Norvell Awning, and received a call back from Roberts awning.

I left a message on the Norvell answering machine on Friday, July 31st. Within 24 hours Roberts had called me back and identified themselves as Roberts awning. They also called me on Monday. The man who called identified himself as Buddy.

Chris
Chris
13 years ago

@Jon
Norvell filed for bankruptcy on July 10. Did the voicemail message identify themselves as Norvell, Roberts or was it just a default message?

Bill
Bill
13 years ago

Snooze, you lose.

Jon
Jon
13 years ago

Chris,

In the voice mail, they identified themselves as Robert’s awning. It was not a default message. The message I left was on Norvell’s machine. The number I called was Norvell’s number.

The message:

“ahh Jon I’m just returning your call I’m just returning your call, this is Buddy [last name] with Robert’s Awning Company, give me a call back on my cell which would be [cell number]”

Todd
Todd
13 years ago

I, too, was told by Reynolds that I could not get a refund because the materials had already been purchased. I my opinion, Reynolds has committed fraud and I hope that criminal charged get filed.

I am THANKFUL that Robert’s Awning has stepped up to the plate to complete the jobs that were promised by Reynolds. The Kovacks should be commended for making me whole.

tom
tom
13 years ago

I left a message on Norvell’s answer machine and was contacted by Capital whats up with that?

Jim
Jim
13 years ago

It appears Richard Reynolds took advantage of a lot of people and stiffed many more than were listed on court documents. What did he do with all the money?

billy shorafa
billy shorafa
11 years ago

richard reynoldlys dose not only take advantage of alot of people he also pay for a lots of people
who works for him and i am one of them