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‘They duped me’: Local contractors owed thousands by out-of-town landlords

City recouped $616K in tax arrears through insolvency proceedings, but local contractors who did work for corporations under SID Developments banner haven't been so lucky

The City of Sault Ste. Marie may have managed to recoup $616,000 in outstanding property taxes owed by a group of insolvent out-of-town real estate investors with the help of the courts, but local contractors who were stiffed thousands of dollars by the same group haven’t been as fortunate. 

As first reported by SooToday, the directors behind 11 insolvent corporations — Aruba Butt, Ryan Molony and Dylan Suitor — filed for protection from creditors in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in late-January, claiming they owe approximately $147 million in unpaid loans and have less than $100,000 in the bank amid rising interest rates and falling home prices. 

Approximately $775,000 of those debts were accrued in Sault Ste. Marie, where a number of local contractors that performed repairs on many of the 152 properties owned by the now-insolvent landlords are owed an estimated $80,000 between them. 

But that number could be much larger: Rapid City Repair is listed in court documents as a creditor that’s owed more than $14,000 — but in reality, that debt is more like $33,355.87. Owner and operator Cory Furkey says his business has yet to recoup any of that amount owed for a number of heating and hot water tank repairs that were completed at more than a dozen properties in town. 

Furkey says he and other Sault-based contractors he’s spoken with who are owed money by these companies have no idea how to go about recouping the outstanding balances. Earlier this month, the Ontario Superior Court granted a motion to drop all unsecured lenders from the court-appointed legal counsel, meaning that local contractors will now have to shell out money to obtain their own lawyers if they want to recoup any debts through ongoing Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act proceedings. 

“Basically, all of these contractors kind of feel defeated,” said Furkey, adding that any optimism they had is now beginning to fade. “Right now we don’t know what to do, other than not work for them anymore.” 

Rapid City Repair was first contacted by SID Renos — one of many companies affiliated with the now-insolvent landlords — in 2022. At first, the working relationship was good: Furkey’s business would secure a deposit before doing any work, and receive the balance of the money owed upon completion. 

But that working relationship would eventually sour. Furkey says SID Renos and SID Management rushed Rapid City Repair into doing repairs, citing an immediate need to get tenants housed. “Against my better judgment, we started these jobs without getting down payments — so we have a lot of jobs that are half paid, and then a lot that they didn’t pay anything at all,” said Furkey. “I guess they duped me into trusting them. It went good for awhile, and then it didn’t.

“When you call them back for payment or an overdue account, you get to realize how many people they have working for them that can pass the buck.”

SID Management began routinely withholding up to 10 per cent of the money owed to Furkey’s business for completed work as a “management fee” that was paid out to other SID-affiliated companies.   

“They would just hold back that much and switch the vendor to one of these other companies, and they just kept popping up and popping up,” Furkey said. 

Finally, after getting his bookkeeper to hound the SID companies repeatedly for outstanding balances, Rapid City Repair got an email notifying him that they had entered creditor protection. 

Furkey said some of the work was performed while money was still owed to Rapid City Repair due to the fact that he knew some of the tenants, and didn’t want to see them go without heat as winter approached. 

Now, he’s openly wondering how the out-of-town property owners will ever be able to do business in the Sault again after earning a less-than-stellar track record among contractors locally.    

“These tenants, some of them were without heat. It didn’t seem like there was much effort put into resolving that at all,” said Furkey. “As winter approached we completed some of these jobs hoping to get paid and keep these people warm — so we finished some of these jobs, I guess in good faith to keep the tenants happy.

“But it didn't seem to matter. We just simply didn’t get paid.”

The now-insolvent corporations helmed by Butt, Molony and Suitor are affiliated with SID Developments, SID Management and SID Renos, all of which are based in Burlington, Ont. Together, they are referred to in court documents as a group of companies “specializing in the acquisition, renovation and leasing of distressed residential real estate in undervalued markets throughout Ontario.”

The group owns more than 600 rental units in housing markets across Ontario with lower average costs of living, including Timmins, Sudbury and the Sault.

The SID family of companies was founded by Robert 'Robby' Clark, a former child actor known for his starring role on The Zack Files, a Canadian sci-fi television series which aired on YTV from 2000 to 2002. 

Clark now fashions himself as a social media influencer, sharing several videos in which he doles out advice for real estate investment while trumpeting a high-profile lifestyle with cameos by hip hop artists like Rick Ross, Tyga and 6ix9ine.

@robbyclark570 I grew up as a child actor who knew nothing about money. I dropped out of high school. I went bankrupt. Rebuilt. I got into a lawsuit and lost everything again. Rebuilt. If you want to be successful in anything in life you have to be surrounded by the right team and you need to educate yourself in whatever field you want to be a part of. Here are my top 5 tips for real estate: 1. Read Rich Dad Poor Dad by @therealkiyosaki 2. Start small but start quickly 3. Get an all-star team 4. Persevere 5. Remember, you can do ANYTHING . . . . . . . . #robbysrantz #6ix9ine #6ix9inenj #realestate #realestateinvesting #investing #investor #richdadpoordad #richdad #finance #financialfreedom #financialliteracy #millionaire #millionairemindset #billionaire #billionairemindset #mindset #hiphop #hiphopculture #rap #popculture #success #successful #inspiration #motivation #motivational ♬ original sound - robbyclark

He also uses the videos on social media to carve out his own rags-to-riches story. 

“So I actually grew up in the entertainment industry, and I knew nothing about money,” Clark said in a Tiktok video from November 2023. “I managed to gross seven figures, but still went bankrupt at 21. I was a high school dropout with six credits, and at the time I was serving tables, bartending, just to get by.”

Clark went on to claim that he encountered yet another roadblock nearly three years ago after he “lost everything” in a lawsuit. “I had half a million dollars in debt, a 420 credit score and felt like I was starting over from scratch again,” adding that he could’ve just “packed it in.” 

“But honestly, failure is just not an option for me,” he said.

That’s when Clark began educating himself on real estate investing. “Now, when I first started I told the same agent that I use today that I was going to have a hundred properties one day,” he said in the video. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I was going to find a way to get there — and this year, we’re buying 700 properties in areas that need it most, creating value in every single one of them.”

Sault Mayor Matthew Shoemaker certainly doesn't see that value.

“I think they have been an overall disaster for the community,” Shoemaker told SooToday earlier this month, referring to the now-insolvent companies. “I think that we would be better off if their assets were ordered to be liquidated by the courts and bought up by reputable landlords who had some connection to the community, because clearly these corporate entities — these shell corporations — have no regard for the well-being of the community.”

Clark has not replied to an interview request from SooToday.

The group of corporations under the SID banner recently had its court-ordered creditor protection extended until March 28.

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James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday in Sault Ste. Marie
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