BRANDON, Fla. - Complaints about a Brandon pool contractor are piling up and customers are coming forward with a new set of concerns.
Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Services has now received 23 complaints, in less than a month, about Exclusive Pools after a series of reports by FOX 13 News. Now, the contractor's name is showing up on a second license being used by a different company to pull permits for pool installations.
Dozens of homeowners said they hired Exclusive Pools to complete their backyard oases. Each one said they paid the company and its owner, Patrick Reardon, between $30,000 and $60,000 to begin the project. In almost every case, workers began construction and, seemingly out of nowhere, stopped.
Weeks later, subcontractors claimed Reardon stiffed them and placed liens on a number of customers' homes.
"It was a huge financial hardship for us to try to overcome and we're not there yet," said Bryan White, who paid $50,500 to Exclusive Pools.
White has since hired another contractor to finish the work. He told FOX 13 his pool was supposed to cost about $60,000 and is now going to cost upward of $90,000.
"It's such an epidemic that someone needs to understand it's going to happen again and then who's going to be responsible at that point?" White said. "At what point do we say, 'enough is enough' and then get to the bottom of it?"
Meanwhile, FOX 13 has learned Reardon has a second license that is attached to Cox Pools in Gibsonton. While Reardon appears to have stopped pulling permits to build pools in August, Cox has been using Reardon's second license to pull more than a dozen permits since June, including several more this month.
"He should take care of the customers that he has already taken money from," said Donna Lawler, who has been organizing a group of Exclusive Pools customers who are dealing with unfinished pools. "When you're standing here as a consumer and this is a huge purchase and a lot of money that you've gone through already, it's kind of hard to be patient."
For the first time, Reardon responded to FOX 13's Aaron Mesmer's attempts to contact him. In a text exchange, Reardon wrote, "I'm helping everyone that I can that is willing to work with me." Regarding his connection with Cox Pools, he wrote, "I'm just licensing them...that is it...I own no part of that company."
Reardon also indicated he would have Cox Pools' attorney reach out but, as of late Friday, that had not happened.
FOX 13 contacted Cox Pools and an employee who answered the phone echoed Reardon's claims regarding the use of his license and said the owner would call back after the weekend.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation confirmed it has issued two licenses to Reardon. An agency spokesperson could not confirm or deny whether the state is investigating Exclusive Pools. When asked whether the general circumstances involved in this case would be something the agency would typically investigate, the spokesperson said, "absolutely."
Reardon did not respond to questions about how much money he's received from customers whose pools have not yet been finished. Lawler has been trying to get a tally from the customers with whom she's been in contact and, so far, and said the total is about $850,000 and counting.