Bankruptcy hits home
A NORTH COAST businessman whose company owes trades people more than $808,154 has filed for bankruptcy.
Michael Colin Hodgkinson filed for bankruptcy on November 29, along with associated entity C & E Structures Pty Ltd. Contractors across the North Coast were left high and dry when parent company GJ Gardner Homes NSW cut ties with Ballina franchisee C & E Structures Pty Ltd in September.
GJ Gardner Homes NSW cited a breach of contract as the cause of the termination.
The bankruptcy declaration means unsecured creditors who have not been paid by C & E Structures Pty Ltd must now stop recovery action.
Wollongbar plumber Michael Offley said C & E Structures Pty Ltd still owes him $21,093 for work he completed on units and houses in Wollongbar, Lennox Head and Ballina.
The sole trader had been trying to recover his money and was unaware of the bankruptcy declaration.
"I guess it means I can kiss my money goodbye. I've tried to go through sheriffs but it's just wasting good money for bad."
Mr Offley's partner works part-time as a teacher and they have two children aged four and six.
He said he lost a quarter of his yearly income when C & E Structures Pty Ltd collapsed.
"It's just a joke. Tradespeople have nothing to protect them so it's easy for builders to declare themselves bankrupt and you have nowhere to go," he said.
Brad Creighton of Lennox Head said his business, Seaside Electrical Contractors, is still owed about $25,000 for work on more than10 houses.
"Basically any profit I would have made over the last two years is gone and we're back to square one," he said.
Mr Creighton was forced to dismiss his tradesman and a technical assistant he had hoped to employ as an apprentice.
"I had to let them go so I could stay afloat and just pay my wholesalers," he said
Mr Creighton remains positive about his future but said insolvency laws should be tightened to protect tradesmen like him.
"There's nothing at all in place to protect contractors," he said.