In the summer of 2019, Mindy Wolfe of Tumalo, Oregon (outside of Bend) finalized an agreement with California-based MD Barnmaster for her self described “dream barn”. However, within months after the company’s contractor finished the work– having paid MD Barnmaster nearly $180,000– Wolfe claims she started to discover major issues.
The entire situation has now resulted in the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) issuing civil fines and exposing licensing and registration violations by MD Barnmaster and it’s supposed North Carolina based subcontractor, KB Constructors. This further lead to the discovery of issues with several other affiliated contractors in multiple states.
After about a year of trying to resolve multiple issues with MD Barnmaster, Wolfe also took to social media to bring attention to her plight. That is when multiple readers quickly tipped off NW Horse Report to take a closer look.
Oregon Licensing Issues
Wolfe had also retained Bend attorney Anthony Salvador in an effort to address the issues. When reached for information about his clients claims, Salvador told NW Horse Report they ultimately brought the issues to the attention of the Oregon CCB after first having issues fully identifying MD Barnmaster, as it was not found registered as a legal entity or DBA in either Oregon or it’s home state of California.
Salvador explained they eventually discovered MD Barnmaster was legally registered as “Barnmaster Supply, LLC”, but had not filed a required fictitious business name registration as required under California law for the name “MD Barnmaster”.
The company appears to have been originally named Barnmaster, Inc. until a 2008 merger with MD Enterprises, Inc. Barnmaster Inc. does show that it was previously a licensed contractor. The business was later disolved when Barnmaster Supply, LLC was registered in 2015 when it was purchased by a China based investor.
Additionally, MD Barnmaster was not registered with the State of Oregon as a foreign business, another requirement for a contractor to operate in the State of Oregon.
“MD Barnmaster meets the definition of “Contractor” under ORS 701.005(5) and is required to be licensed by the Oregon CCB.” said Salvador, Wolfe’s attorney.
Not only did MD Barnmaster or KB Constructors never have an Oregon CCB license, neither were registered with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Corporation Division to conduct physical business in Oregon.
While a website for KB Constructors displayed a notice about being under construction, a Facebook page for the company created in 2019 indicated that the company was the new MD Barnmaster distributors for North and South Carolina. Wolfe and even MD Barnmaster both told NW Horse Report that KB Constructors was based in North Carolina.
NW Horse Report discovered that neither KB Constructors or it’s owner, John Kaemming, had a contractors license in either of those states, and was only previously registered with the North Carolina Secretary of State as a foreign business that was incorporated in Corning, CA, but with a Raleigh, NC registered office.
However, the North Carolina Secretary of State indicated that KB Constructors’ business status was currently “revoked”.
KB Constructors did indeed show an active California business registration that started in 2015 with the same Corning address, but it was also never licensed with the Contractors State License Board, according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Neither was MD Barnmaster.
Licensing issues go beyond Oregon and KB Contractors
Multiple online allegations spanning several years were found that also alleged that MD Barnmaster was knowingly using unlicensed contractors. Another review from 2019 also claimed that after having major issues and complaining to the contractors “Corning office”, they ultimately spoke to an executive with MD Barnmaster who stated the contractor was not associated with them. It appears the contractor in question was KB Constructors. The reviewer also claimed the contractor had business cards and a website with the MD Barnmaster logo, according to the reviewer.
NW Horse Report uncovered another Oregon contractor listed for Oregon by MD Barnmaster called Andrew Griffith Construction, also based in California. While previously licensed with the CCB, it appears all licensing has since expired for the company and it’s owner. The company also appears to have formally operated under the name “MD Barns of Oregon”.
State of Oregon levies civil fines on MD Barnmaster
After prompt investigations by Oregon CCB officials following the complaint involving the work performed for Wolfe, MD Barnmaster claimed it was fined $5,000. State records indicate a penalty amount issued to MD Barnmaster for “Working without a CCB license” of $5,000, of which $3,545.75 is currently unpaid.
NW Horse Report was unable to reach officials with the Oregon CCB prior to press time for comment and additional information. This article will be updated if any prompt comment is received.
Because MD Barnmaster and KB Constructors were not licensed with the Oregon CCB, Wolfe was left without the normal options afforded to Oregon consumers to address grievances through an affordable process, instead being left with the costly choice of having to hire an attorney.
Alleged construction issues and failed fixes
In her Facebook post, Wolfe outlined a couple of key issues that were discovered with her new barn, the first starting in the late Spring of 2020.
“…In August I went to open my RCA windows for better airflow in my barn and discovered that 4 windows were installed upside down. MD Barnmaster was contacted and KB Constructors came out to pull and reinstall correctly.” said Wolfe in her August 6th Facebook post detailing the issues.
Wolfe went on to explain the second major issues which is part of the current ongoing dispute, “In November of 2020 I went out to my barn in a hard rain to find it leaking all along the RCA and water was running down the walls in my tack room! I contacted MD Barnmaster and they asked for photo’s and video.”
Wolfe further detailed how she had to contact a local roofer to help, but after that contractor wasn’t equipped to fix the issue they helped her with protecting the interior with plastic. “MD Barnmaster came out a few weeks later with caulking and said it was fixed. It was not.” she said.
NW Horse Report talked to MD Barnmasters COO Anna Guth who disputed some of the issues, but also admitted there were “mistakes”, including in what she admitted was an unlicensed contractor (KB Constructors), although it appears that MD Barnmaster should have also been licensed with the CCB.
Guth went on to praise the quality work of KB Constructors and it’s owner, John Kaemming. “John made three separate trips out to Oregon from North Carolina in order to fix things for [Wolfe],”
Guth also initially claimed that the business was only a material supplier and that customers had to contract directly with installers, a claim that conflicted with the statements from Wolfe and her attorney.
When pressed for specific information about the situation with Wolfe, Guth ultimately explained that they had only previously handled the installation by subcontracting the work, a practice she claimed ended sometime in 2019.
Guth also later said, “we made an exception because she (Wolfe) only wanted to pay one company.” She also went on to claim that Wolfe was told by MD Barnmaster that KB Constructors wasn’t licensed and she agreed anyway, a claim that Wolfe strongly denied when asked.
Demands and potential legal action
Based on emails provided by Guth to NW Horse Report, in mid-July, 2021, Wolfe’s attorney appeared to have spoken with MD Barnmasters own attorney, Jason Valez of 1Law.
On July 26th, Valez emailed Salvador saying in part, “I have spoken with MD Barnmaster and their position is that the work was appropriate for an agricultural building, which is not the same as a residential structure. That said, MD Barnmaster is willing to offer $4000 to resolve the matter completely without the need to hire local counsel to defend on this matter.”
Salvador responded the next day, “Thank you for your email. My client [Wolfe] rejects MD Barnmaster’s settlement offer. It is not likely a judge or jury will buy MD Barnmaster’s position that a leaking barn is appropriate because it is not a residential structure.
The email went on to say, “These are high-end luxury barns. My clients paid MD Barnmaster approximately $180,000 for the barn. In other words, this is not a $20,000 shed in the backyard.”
The email further went on to formally make demand of payment of $9,990, among other covenants, giving MD Barnmaster until August 3rd, 2021 to accept the offer.
While Wolfe told NW Horse Report that they had no response from MD Barnmaster or their attorney before the August 3rd deadline, Guth claimed that was untrue and that they had agreed in part to the deal being offered. Guth provided NW Horse Report a copy of the emails between her, her attorney Valez, and Salvador.
Interestingly, upon review of the emails by NW Horse Report, it appears that an August 2nd email addressed in form to Wolfe’s attorney, Salvador, was actually only sent back to Guth’s email address, and did not include Salvador’s email.
It clearly appeared as if Guth and her attorney were mistaken about the response ever being sent to Salvador.
When asked about her feelings on the offers for settlement, Guth went on to explain that it just made the most business sense, but also said that Wolfe was “being a bully that wanted to hurt company [sic] and the jobs of over thirty workers”. She explained the MD Barnmaster employed around 30 to 40 employees and had been in business for over 45-years.
In 2015, the company was sold to Logan Zhu who Guth described as a “Chinese investor” who is their CEO but resides in China. Then in May 2021, corporation documents indicated a change that replaced Zhu with Daoqing Zheng.
Guth said she came on board as the company’s chief operations officer to manage the business and resides in Ontario, California, where the company is based. Should an appropriate resolution between Wolfe and MD Barnmaster not be made soon it appears her attorney is prepared to move forward with legal action.
This is an ongoing story that we will continue to follow and update our readers on