BARSTOW • Two local sub-contractors and a San Diego-based sub-contractor have taken legal action against the company that owns the Country Inn & Suites hotel in Barstow for money they say the company owes them for work done during the hotel's construction.

A partner in the firm that owns the hotel, however, says it is the general contractor — the construction company that oversaw the building of the hotel — the sub-contractors should be trying to get their money from. The hotel opened its doors April 24.

James Rajacich, corporate secretary for Gordon Gossard Construction, Inc., a Barstow-based company that paved and graded the hotel's parking lot, says his firm is owed $56,000. Sandra Lira, the accounts payable and receivable manager for California Comfort Systems, a San Diego company that did the climate control and ventilation work on the hotel, says her firm is owed $45,000. Jennifer Kelley, owner of Kelley's Underground Construction, says her company is owed $6,500.

Kelley said she began foreclosure proceedings Friday. If she isn't paid what she is owed, Kelley said her company will obtain judgment to take possession of the hotel. James Rajacich, corporate secretary for Gordon Gossard Construction, said the company he works for is in the process of filing a lawsuit.  

Tengly Tan, a partner in Tan & Eng, owners of the hotel, said he has tried to reach an agreement with the three companies, and the other subcontractors involved, to pay half of what they are owed until a lawsuit between his firm and Smith Flat, the general contractor that was based out of Placerville, is resolved. According to Tan, 10 out of the 13 companies who did work at the hotel took the deal. The three who didn't are Kelley's Underground Construction, Gordon Gossard Construction and California Comfort Systems, he claims.

The phone number for Smith Flat has been disconnected, and the Desert Dispatch was unable to contact any representatives from the company. Tan says the company hasn't responded to court documents his firm's lawyers have sent. He said he is suing Smith Flat for about $500,000, $202,000 of which would be used to pay the subcontractors the rest of what they're owed. The other $300,000 would be used to pay interest to Butte County Bank, a Chico-based bank that loaned his firm the money to build the hotel, Tan said.

Kelley says she is owed for a reducing pressure device her company added to the hotel's domestic water line in March. Even though she is owed the least amount of the three companies, Kelley's company picketed the hotel on Aug. 13 and 14, holding signs that said the owner of the hotel wouldn't pay his bills. Tan, Kelley said, did offer to pay her half of the $6,500, but she felt she deserved full pay.

"That's not the way we do business," she said. "(Tan) said 'I'm only paying you half' and I said, 'No, you're not — I did 100 percent of the work and I should be paid 100 percent.'"

Kelley said she was sub-contracted through Smith Flat for work her company did to install the hotel's domestic and fire water lines between April 2008 and July 2008. But when she installed the reducing pressure device to the domestic water line in March, she was working directly for the owner. Smith Flat, she said, left the project a month earlier.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com