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Vandervert Construction permanently closes

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 9, 2018

This apartment project in the 1300 block of West College Avenue is a Vandevert Construction project Photographed Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
This apartment project in the 1300 block of West College Avenue is a Vandevert Construction project Photographed Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Vandervert Construction Inc., a Spokane-based general contractor that built hotels, banks and stores throughout the Pacific Northwest, has closed for good.

There are no plans to revive the 43-year-old company, said attorney Barry Davidson, who is the court-appointed receiver in Vandervert Construction’s dissolution.

“Vandervert has terminated construction-related activities effective last Friday,” Davidson said in a Friday afternoon interview. Company owner Tim Stulc voluntarily initiated the receivership in Spokane County Superior Court for “essentially winding down ongoing business operations.”

The demise of one of the region’s largest general contractors affects hundreds of creditors across the Northwest, where Vandervert has ongoing construction projects.

About 300 subcontractors are listed as creditors in the initial court documents for the receivership, and the list is likely to grow as additional claims are submitted, Davidson said.

“We’ve been receiving hundreds of inquiries all week,” he said of his law firm, Davidson Backman Medeiros PLLC.

About 80 Vandervert employees lost their jobs last week, and Davidson anticipates claims for back wages. However, he said many of the former employees already have received job offers from other local construction companies.

The ultimate goal of the receivership is to distribute funds to Vandervert’s creditors to the maximum extent possible, Davidson said.

“We’re hoping to do that as quickly as possible,” he said.

No bankruptcy proceedings are planned, but it still could take months to vet the claims against Vandervert and work through any future lawsuits filed against the company, Davidson said.

“It might go on for some time,” he said. “Funds would be distributed at certain times.”

The amount that Vandervert owes to creditors and the value of the company’s assets is still being tallied, Davidson said.

For Vandervert’s ongoing construction projects, Davidson said his goal is to “transition those projects to owners in a way that would minimize damage from Vandervert ceasing operations.”

The receivership filing includes a dozen pages of Vandervert’s current and recent construction projects. Vandervert is the contractor for the Super 1 grocery store in Athol, which is scheduled to open this spring.

Other projects include a Marriott hotel in Pullman; a Spokane Valley Jamba Juice; the Bellevue Hilton Garden Inn; a Panera Bread store and Fred Meyer remodel in Richland; and the remodel of a Wendy’s in Moscow, Idaho.

Vandervert filed for receivership on Feb. 2, after exhausting efforts to obtain additional capital and financing, according to Davidson. He declined to discuss what triggered the company’s financial troubles.

“It’s a complex financial situation,” he said. “It would be premature to pin the cause down on any project.”

Vandervert Construction, with corporate offices at 608 E. Holland Ave., was founded in 1975 by Dick Vandervert. In 2011, he sold the company to Stulc, who was a company employee at the time.

Vandervert said he was saddened by the closure. The business he founded and built became an operation doing about $90 million annually at its peak.

“Shopping centers were our forte,” Vandervert said. “I just got in with certain companies, and we did lots of stores for them year after year.”

Vandervert Construction had projects as far away as Kalispell and Reno, Nevada. But the bulk of the company’s work was within a couple of hundred miles of Spokane, Vandervert said.

“I absolutely loved the Cabela’s project on the Spokane River,” he said. “And I was real proud of the Hampton Inn and the Hilton Garden Inn” near Spokane International Airport.

Both hotels are owned by Vandervert Developments, where Dick Vandervert is the president and owner. After the sale of Vandervert Construction to Stulc, he said, he lost track of what was happening on the construction side.

Amid the news of the closure, Vandervert said he was pleased to hear that former employees were getting job offers.

“Now is a good time to be in the construction business. It’s going crazy,” he said.

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