No trace of Jopalo Boats builder
CREDITORS of Yamba boat builder Jopalo Boats could be out of pocket by almost $300,000.
One creditor said he knows of at least seven people, including himself, who have paid company owner George Lousick between $15,000 and $60,000. At least another two creditors have come forward who have paid the company $16,000 and $50,000 for the company’s popular aluminium-hulled boats.
The owner of Coffs Coast Sports Fishing Robert Lang said he brought his Jopalo boat back for a refit and ‘repower’ last December and soon after received a call from Mr Lousick asking for $25,000 for a new engine.
“He told me Suzuki had a deal going and he needed the money quickly, so I gave him the money,” Mr Lang said.
“This is not just a business going sour. Looking at the number of orders and the amount of cash coming in, there was no problem with cash flow.
“It looks like he was fleecing customers of their money.”
He said Mr Lousick had been uncontactable since his shop in Uki Street, Yamba, closed down more than two weeks ago.
Another creditor, Brian Barron, has been chasing Mr Lousick for information after lodging a $17,000 deposit for a boat.
Mr Barron said he had bought a Jopalo boat two years ago and had been impressed with its excellent design and workmanship.
“When I wanted to buy another one I didn’t even bother to get other quotes,” he said.
“But after I didn’t hear anything back from him and didn’t get response to my emails I came across your article and an Ausfish forum that said the company was in trouble.”
Mr Barron said he had sunk his life savings into a business of buying Jopalo Boat hulls and fitting them out to be resold.
“Now that’s out of the question. I’m gone,” he said.
Mr Barron said he had been in contact with Maclean solicitor Mark Spagnolo from Conroy Stewart Spagnolo Solicitors.
“He said the procedure of them going bankrupt would come into force at midnight on April 13,” Mr Barron said.
The Daily Examiner phoned Mr Spagnolo’s office yesterday to get an update on the legal proceedings, but was unable to talk to him.
The media unit of the NSW Department of Fair Trading said there are no complaints relating to Jopalo Boats.
“Consumers should urgently lodge claims with the Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) to get an order,” a spokesperson said.
“If an administrator/liquidator is appointed, then they should deal with them.
“Consumers should also lodge complaints with local police or Fair Trading on 13 32 20.”
Mr Lousick did not return any of The Daily Examiner’s calls to him yesterday.