Aztec motel subcontractors still waiting for payment
AZTEC — Area businesses that helped build Aztec's first national chain hotel are still waiting to be paid.
Located at the south end of downtown Aztec near the intersection of Pepsi Way and U.S. Highway 550, the Aztec Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham opened its doors in early October. While the hotel now offers 70 rooms, a pool, a hot tub and free Wi-Fi, subcontractors are still out in the cold.
"We did quite a bit of work on the project, but have not been paid yet," said Clint Freeman, co-owner of Sun Glass of Farmington. "It makes us strapped, but we're blessed to have a lot of good customers."
In operation since 1952, Sun Glass installed doors, bathroom hardware and mirrors for the hotel. Like the other subcontractors hired to work on the hotel, Sun Glass was contracted by CMI, a privately held company based in Dunedin, Fla.
Jeff Jaeger, president of San Juan Insulation and Drywall in Durango, has yet to see payment for installing the hotel's insulation, drywall and acoustic ceilings.
"It's a substantial amount. Not that there's a good time of year, but especially around the holidays, this represents a hardship," Jaeger said. "We've covered payroll, paid our vendors, but we need to be paid."
Jaeger said he has filed a lien against the hotel for unpaid work and was contacted by an attorney representing the hotel.
That lawyer is Patricia Simpson, a Farmington attorney who is handling the payment negotiations.
"Wyndham and the Microtel and the developer have met all their obligations," Simpson said on Friday. "There are methods in place to notify the subs and we are proceeding to get them paid. It's a very sensitive legal issue. It's being handled as quickly as we can."
Messages left with CMI seeking comment were not answered as of late Friday.
"We're due $85,000," Freeman said. "For a local business that feeds 45 families. The thing that you don't do is jack people's pay. Our people got paid. We didn't. I hope we get some answers. And at the end of day, I hope we get paid."
Ron Becker, owner of Medallion Heating in Farmington, is also waiting on payment for heating, ventilation and air conditioning installation work his crew spent the better part of the year completing.
"Our part of the job started in May, working five days a week, including numerous Saturdays and Sundays, to get the work done on time," Becker said. "They should be paying us. It's a lot of money (that) we're owed."
Pete Witzemann, owner of Pete's Plumbing and Mechanical, was hired to install all the plumbing for the hotel. He said he's still waiting to be paid.
"We're owed money. I'm a small business. What do you think?" he said. "It is what it is. We completed our contract and we're waiting for them (CMI) to."
Paul Mitchell, owner of Paul Mitchell Painting in Farmington, did get paid for painting the hotel's four floors and was surprised to learn that other subcontractors are still waiting through the holidays and new year to be paid.
"I'm sorry people didn't get paid. This is the first I've learned of it," Mitchell said. "But my circumstances are different. I replaced the previous painter whose work didn't pass final inspection. I had to repaint three floors that were not done right."
Mitchell blames CMI for the project's rocky schedule and payment issues.
"I think it's poor management. They didn't have the right people on site," Mitchell said. "CMI are from Florida and maybe they're used to bigger city projects. Materials and labor, project resources are scarcer in a smaller place. It's just one of those things."
Project delays compelled the hotel to hire Jaynes Corporation of Albuquerque in September.
"They brought in Jaynes to manage the final two weeks of the project," Mitchell said. "Jaynes is the one who got the job done on time. I came in to fix the mess. When I came in I made sure I got paid. They couldn't proceed without me. Painting had to happen before anyone could lay carpet, install electric, appliances. But I made sure I was going to be paid for my work."