TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Olympus Pools owner James Staten vows to finish all 280 unfinished pools across multiple Tampa Bay counties. Staten sat down with Consumer Investigative Reporter Shannon Behnken to explain his plan for saving his business and completing the pools.
“At the end of the day, the buck stops with me, and I take full responsibility for that,” Staten said.
It was the first interview for Staten, who has been relatively quiet and avoided cameras since Better Call Behnken broke the story of the company’s problems weeks ago. Since then, he said he realized he needed help with communicating with the public and hired a public relations company to help.
He issued a statement on his company Facebook page and sat down with Behnken for an interview.
Staten says his problems started with COVID-19 related material and labor shortages. Customers want to know why he didn’t see this coming and kept accepting new business.
“Why did you accept cash upfront for these pools?” Behnken asked.
“Well, a lot of our payments from customers are cash so it’s not the fact that they paid cash is any different. That’s pretty normal,” Staten said.
Under the circumstances, though, many who paid in full for pools they don’t have are even more furious. Staten says in the future he won’t accept cash payment in full anymore. Staten says moving forward he also won’t accept any new contracts until the existing ones are finished.
“We’ve cut off taking deposits, we’ve cut off starting excavation. all we’re focusing on is the jobs under construction,” Staten said.
As for angry homeowners tired of looking at unfinished pools, Staten says the job will get done.
“Their pools are going to get completed,” he said. “We are working tirelessly. I promise you, you won’t find anybody, any company out there working harder. We doubled the size of our in-house construction team so we can more self-reliant and give better service,” Staten said.
Meanwhile, state regulators and the Florida Attorney General have gotten involved and an active review into customer complaints is underway.
“The question some of these investigators are looking into is whether this crosses the line into criminal activity. Do you feel you committed a crime here?” Behnken asked.
“No way. Absolutely not. If it’s a crime to make a mistake and do the best that you can to make it right. No, absolutely no way possible,” Staten said.
Staten says depending on how much progress has been done on a homeowner’s pool will depend on how long it will take to finish the project. Staten adds it could be weeks but for some it could take much longer.