Contractors and the ROC: Better Days Ahead?
In contrast to the recent toxic relationship between the Registrar of Contractors and Arizona’s construction industry, the ROC’s new leadership is sending encouraging signals about how the agency plans to go about its business.
At the April 2015 meeting of the State Bar of Arizonas
Construction Law Section, presentations by members of the Registrar of
Contractors new leadership team strongly suggested that the ROC, while remaining
true to its regulatory function, will be more focused on balancing the interests
of homeowners and contractors.
In his remarks, new ROC director
Jeff Fleetham the
former owner of an ROC-licensed company stated that, while the ROC exists to
serve the public, contractors are members of that public, not a separate and
distinct class, and are among the people that the ROC serves and protects.
Echoing Governor Duceys pro-business philosophy,
Fleetham noted that small business is the backbone of Arizonas economy and that
big business will not come to Arizona unless small business of which
construction is a major part is thriving. He stated that the ROC will seek to
foster growth and remove obstacles to small business success.
Two of Fleethams senior staff, Chief Legal Counsel James Hanson and Chief of Inspections Jeff Wills, also delivered remarks that
were warmly received by the construction lawyers in attendance.
James Hanson, who before joining the ROC in March 2015 was
our colleague at Lang & Klain, stressed that the ROC needs to rejoin the
contracting community and to listen to contractors and their lawyers about what
is really happening on the ground.
With his experience in representing both contractors and
owners still fresh in his memory, Hanson stated that the ROC will try to be
clearer about what it wants to see from contractors and more consistent in its
enforcement priorities and policies. This is welcome news, as attorneys who deal
with the ROC can more effectively advise their clients if the attorneys can
anticipate how the ROC is likely to respond in various scenarios.
Investigations chief Jeff Wills comes from a customer service background in
the homebuilding industry. Among his stated priorities is
making investigators more accessible to customers, a group in which he believes
homeowners and contractors are equal members. Wills said that investigators will
be given more freedom to dismiss clearly meritless cases. Also, they will be
encouraged to act as mediators during the early stages of a complaint, with the
goal of resolving disputes before they needlessly escalate.
Time will tell whether the ROCs new, more pro-business
philosophies survive unforeseen political and other influences, but for now, the
public remarks of the agencys leaders give fresh hope to contractors seeking
fairer treatment and more respect from Arizonas construction regulators.