TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A growing number of customers of several Tampa Bay-area pool companies are up in arms about unfinished pools, liens on their homes and poor communication.
One thing that connects them all is that the companies have the same state-licensed contractor — and he’s the one who is legally responsible for all of their projects.
“We feel abandoned,” said Angela Omoike of Wesley Chapel. “We feel robbed. It’s so extremely frustrating. This has looked the same since Nov. 2022.”
Omoike paid West Bay Pools more than $87,000 for her backyard oasis, but more than two years after she signed her contract, her pool is not finished.
Over in Pinellas County, Jillian Begin and her husband say Modern Pools halted their nearly-completed project after they paid $70,000. They ended up paying another $13,000 to a unrelated company to finish it.
The Begins and other Modern Pools customers are now facing a lawsuit from a supplier who says the company failed to pay for materials.
“We actually got served with a lawsuit at 8:45 p.m. actually on the night that we finished with our other company that came in and helped us finish the pool,” Begin said. “So we got maybe an hour of celebrating that our pool was finished before we got served with a lawsuit.”
A growing number of consumers are calling Better Call Behnken about West Bay Pools, Modern Pools and Staycation Pools & Spas. All three have the same licensed contractor, Jordan Hidalgo, and these companies represent less than half of his state licenses.
Hidalgo first made headlines in May 2021 when he agreed to buy part of the now-defunct Olympus Pools and help finish hundreds of pools.
At the time, he told Consumer Investigator Shannon Behnken: “I know some people have saved their entire lives to put a pool in, so to see that not happen doesn’t sit well with me.”
Two months after that interview, Hildalgo backed out of the deal with Olympus, saying that the finances were worse off than he realized.
Public records show Hidalgo has nine active state licenses, representing the following companies: Modern Pools, West Bay Pools, Staycation Pools & Spas, Pinellas Construction Services, LLC, 30 Day Pools, Pools By Jordan and A to Z Gulfcoast Service. He has two different licenses for two of the companies.
He has another application in progress for a Construction Financial Officer.
Hidalgo said he declined an on-camera interview but explained that his trouble is due to numerous bad circumstances, including a partner suddenly passing away after an illness and what he calls mismanagement and theft by employees. He insists he’s doing everything he can to get out of this mess.
“I have put a half million of my own money into this in the past year,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo admitted he is stretched thin, but pointed out that until recently, he had a good record with the state. Now, however, the Florida Attorney General’s office says it is looking into 36 complaints.
Hidalgo confirms the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is also investigating.
There is no official limit to the number of licenses one person can have in Florida. However, state law requires that anyone seeking three or more businesses must have their application reviewed by the state licensing board.
Meanwhile, Hidalgo says the state has now expressed concern over the number of licenses and he is in the process of cutting down his list of licenses.