Jopalo customers take legal advice
THE doors to one of Australia’s best aluminium boat builders were locked this week with customers seeking legal advice on how to retrieve their paid-for goods inside.
Yamba’s Bob Finch had followed the progress of one of Yamba’s business success stories in Jopalo Boats for over a year before he took out a contract for a fishing vessel to be custom built.
“They are undoubtedly one of the best aluminium boat builders in the country. I have seen them at all the boat shows,” Mr Finch said.
Mr Finch described the situation as a ‘horrible mess’.
Former Yamba Sports Fishing proprietor, Robert Lang, of Bellingen, was the last customer to get his boat out of the Uki Street business on Tuesday before the owner of the building allegedly locked the doors. It is believed four or five boats remain inside.
Mr Lang had handed over the estuary boat that he’d originally bought from Jopalo for a refit and ‘re-power’ in December last year.
In early January Jopalo Boat’s owner George Lousick told Mr Lang that $25,000 was needed to secure an engine for the boat, which was transferred three days later.
Mr Lang was told during the next two months that the engine had been bought and the work was progressing but bad weather had caused delays to the boat’s painting process.
“At the beginning of March the weather had fined up but I couldn’t get in contact with George and so at the first opportunity I drove up to Yamba to see what was going on,” Mr Lang said.
“On Tuesday I found my boat had been completely stripped down and none of the work had been done.”
Mr Lang gave the owner of the company an hour to get the boat on a trailer and drove it out in ‘a hundred pieces’.
The Daily Examiner made several attempts to contact Jopalo Boats at the time of writing but was unsuccessful.
In December 2007, George Lousick’s then company, Clarence Valley Aluminium and Steel, was presented with the NSW Aboriginal Employment and Business Award for the second time in three years.
He went on to secure an Indigenous Business Australia low interest loan that saw his business grow from a one-man operation to a staff of nine a year ago and was recently commissioned by Rous Water to custom build a water-weed harvester.
Indigenous Business Australia could not comment on Jopalo Boats due to privacy laws.