KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The KSHB 41 News I-Team fights for consumers, tracking down contractors who leave customers in the lurch. We don’t always get to share good news in these stories. This time we can.
After an I-Team investigation into a company that took payments from customers and didn’t follow through, good Samaritans stepped up to finish the job for a Kansas City, Missouri, woman.
When the I-Team first introduced Sondra Saling last summer, she was living with an unfinished kitchen after a water leak wreaked havoc on her home.
Saling had signed a contract with Superior Restoration and put down $6,500, but she said the company never finished the work.
The name was familiar to the I-Team.
Superior Restoration and owner Cory Poulsen also were accused of walking out on a group of homeowners whose townhomes were destroyed by a fire in 2019.
When Saling’s story aired on KSHB 41, Kasey Hopkins, owner of Stateline Exteriors, and Angie Byram, Stateline’s office manager, were watching.
“We heard about what happened, and immediately, Angie was over, and I looked at her... and I said, 'Here we go, another contractor taking advantage of another customer,'” Hopkins said.
Byram had the same idea.
“I think it was within minutes that I emailed you and said let’s help,” Byram said.
Stateline Exteriors teamed up with Affordable Painting & Deck, S2 Construction and Pure Air to volunteer their time to complete the kitchen.
Saling, who lost her job during the COVID-19 pandemic, was floored by the news.
“Blessing in disguise," Saling said. "Kasey and his team were just amazing."
During the course of the project, the team of good Samaritans worked hard to earn Saling’s trust.
“We know pretty instantly when we walk into a customer’s home if they’ve had a bad experience, because they do have their walls up,” Byram said, “That’s where we shine, because we just break down that wall piece by piece.”
Saling described it as a total 180 from her experience with Poulsen and Superior Restoration.
Legal woes for Superior Restoration & Poulsen
As the I-Team previously reported, Saling wasn’t Superior’s only unhappy customer.
Last year, two owners from the Greenbrier townhomes project took Poulsen to court in Johnson County, where a judge sided with them and ordered Poulsen and Superior to pay more than $170,000.
Attorney Shane Mecham, who represented the homeowners, wrote in an email to KSHB 41, that they have "taken every step" to collect those funds.
“So far, we have not been able to collect a cent from Mr. Poulsen," Mecham wrote. "He continues to ignore the court’s orders and hide his considerable assets."
The Johnson County DA’s office previously opened an investigation into Superior Restoration, and a spokesperson said the case still is open.
On top of that, Poulsen owes back rent on the office space in Overland Park that his business was evicted from last year.
A Johnson County judge ordered Poulsen to pay $37,000. An attorney for the landlord didn’t respond to an inquiry about the status of that debt.
Meanwhile, Jerry Senter, a project manager for Insco Environmental, said Poulsen still owes him about $32,000 for asbestos abatement at the Greenbrier townhomes.
The I-Team also discovered that late last year the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) sued Poulsen. The suit centers on loans Poulsen and his companies received from Ericson State Bank in Nebraska.
The bank “renewed, extended or advanced those loans over time, often without appropriate documentation or analysis of collateral positions or repayment capacities," according to a complaint the FDIC filed in federal court.
In 2020, the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance shut down Ericson State Bank due to “significant violations of statutory lending limits,” some of which involved a relative of the bank’s director and that relative’s business interests.
Earlier this month, a judge ordered Superior Restoration to pay $3.69 million and Poulsen to pay $2.1 million to the FDIC.
When the I-Team tried calling Poulsen’s cell, the number was disconnected, so we paid a visit to one of his assets, a lake house near Fort Scott.
Poulsen wasn’t home, but he did send a text message from his new number, promising to sit down with us the following week.
After that, the I-Team received excuse after excuse from Poulsen, who said he was out of town, stuck at a job or was “meeting with some guys to help financially resolve the project” and wanted to talk to us after.
Poulsen didn’t show up for a fifth scheduled meeting, and he didn’t respond to one final invitation to answer questions via email.
However, two days after this story aired, Poulsen emailed the I-Team. The only question he answered was our inquiry regarding when he will pay the debts he owes.
"I'm working to start paying them and will have final details that I have been working on so I can do that," he wrote.
As for Saling, she’s relieved her kitchen nightmare is finally over.
“It put my faith back in humanity, so to speak," she said. "I mean, to know that there’s still good people out there, especially after what Superior did to us."
To avoid having a bad experience with a contractor, Hopkins and Byram, of Stateline Exteriors, shared the following advice:
- When checking reviews, see if the company responds to feedback, both positive and negative.
- Reach out to reviewers to see if they’re willing to chat about their experiences.
- Consider posting on Nextdoor to see if neighbors have a recommendation.
- Once you find a contractor you trust, utilize their network to find reputable companies.
Editors Note: This story was updated on July 30 at 4:50 p.m. to include a statement from Cory Poulsen, who reached out days after the piece was published.