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Construction Law

Contractors and the ROC: Better Days Ahead?

Mike Thal


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 Arizona’s 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.

  Construction Advisor

This article appeared in the April 2015 issue of "The Construction Advisor" published by Lang & Klain, P.C.

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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 Ducey’s pro-business philosophy, Fleetham noted that small business is the backbone of Arizona’s 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 Fleetham’s 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 ROC’s new, more pro-business philosophies survive unforeseen political and other influences, but for now, the public remarks of the agency’s leaders give fresh hope to contractors seeking fairer treatment and more respect from Arizona’s construction regulators.