Construction photo with Florida financial alert overlay graphic

The month of March was anything but welcoming for at least four contractors spanning coast to coast across the Sunshine State. 

Between March 5, 2021 and March 23, 2021, four Florida contractors submitted voluntary petitions for Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

According to the US Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida and the Southern District of Florida, the bankrupt contractors include: 

  • JWB Design Build Construction Services, Saint Petersburg
  • Shield Roofing, Miami 
  • R&R Industries, Daytona Beach
  • No Rust Rebar, Pompano Beach

In total, the four bankrupt Florida contractors name a combined 15 contractors/material suppliers owed at least $188,371.87 within the bankruptcy petitions. 

Shield Roofing is the only contractor to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which requires the contractor to liquidate – selling off nonexempt property and using the resulting proceeds to pay back creditors. 

Meanwhile, the remaining three contractors sought voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which keeps the business alive via a reorganization process to pay back creditors over an extended period of time.

“I’ve seen [subcontractors] and general contractors struggling in Florida because of COVID. But now, with the prices of real estate going up…I think that’s some good news.”

Miami construction attorney César Mejía-Dueñas

All four contractors and their respective lawyers could not be reached for comment at the time of reporting, however, requests for comment were left. 

“I’ve seen [subcontractors] and general contractors struggling in Florida because of COVID,” said César Mejía-Dueñas, a Miami construction attorney with De Varona Law. “But now, with the prices of real estate going up so steadily and so drastically, I think that’s some good news for [Florida] contractors.

Read more: Miami’s Spike in Construction Disputes Amid COVID in Summer ‘20

“What I’ve seen with some Florida contractors is that they go bankrupt because they weren’t diligent about their own finances. It doesn’t matter if the contractor is handling a couple hundred-thousand-dollar project or a million dollar project,” Mejía-Dueñas said.

Aside from the financial burdens brought on by the onset of the novel coronavirus, Mejía-Dueñas insists he and his law firm have seen contractors hurt themselves when it comes to enforcing their own mechanics lien rights for recovering payment

“The lack of familiarity with your enforcement methods for payment – how you’re going to get paid – can very easily take any contractor to bankruptcy,” said Mejía-Dueñas. “And that’s a problem, because South Florida has been such a great spot for construction and such a thriving place. 

“But contractors think, if they don’t recover money from this one project, we’ll get it from some other project. But with COVID, now that the metaphorical water is down, you can see those contractors who were skinny-dipping. That’s the reality of it.” 

On March 23, 2021, JWB Design Build Construction Services — doing business as Barger Builders and Barger Design Builders over the years — filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. 

The bankruptcy petition states the contractor is faced with $29,843.65 in liabilities owed to 10 total creditors with nonpriority unsecured claims – of which five are fellow contractors or material suppliers owed a combined $2,180.50. 

According to the Circuit Court of Pinellas County Florida, JWB Design Build Construction Services is still locked in several complaints filed by two property owners. 

One such complaint, originally filed in November of 2020, argues the contractor ignored a project deadline, did not complete work to satisfaction, and provided inaccurate estimates. The second complaint dates back to April of 2019, in which JWB is accused of not pulling the right construction permits on a residential project. 

JWB Design Build Construction Services estimates their assets are valued at between $0-$50,000, according to their bankruptcy petition. 

Shield Roofing owes nearly $116,000 to 7 contractors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing

Within the Chapter 7 petition from March 22, 2021 with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, Shield Roofing reports a 95% decrease in gross revenue between 2019 and 2020. 

The contractor reports in their bankruptcy petition earnings of $2,555,834 in 2019, followed by $140,000 in 2020. 

Shield Roofing also names seven contractors owed a combined $115,767.34 within their petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. 

One such contractor is American Builders & Contractors Supply, which is allegedly owed nearly $36,000 with a judgment lien from Shield Roofing. 

Shield Roofing iis faced with $1,712,444.14 with just $94 in assets, all of which are held in the contractor’s checking account. 

Floridian roofing and rebar contractors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2021

On March 11, roofing contractor R&R Industries declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy with Florida’s Middle District bankruptcy court. 

The contractor names three contractors within their petition that are owed a total of $70,424.03. The three contractors include: 

  • Carlisle Roofing Systems – $24,800
  • Johnson Controls – $9,700
  • Qualified Installers – $35,800

R&R Industries estimates they owe between $1–$10 million in liabilities with assets also estimated between $1–$10 million. 

According to the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, No Rust Rebar owes to at least energy suppliers after declaring bankruptcy on March 5, 2021. 

No Rust Rebar estimates $1–$10 million in liabilities and assets. 

The contractor’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition lists a mailing matrix of 20 creditors, but does not include any claim amounts associated with each creditor.