Subcontractors are lobbying for tougher regulations on builders who leave them out of pocket.
Subcontractors are lobbying for tougher regulations on builders who leave them out of pocket. Marian Faa

Family business robbed of $15,000 in building company bust

LEFT thousands of dollars out of pocket, a Warwick family business is among hundreds that have fallen victim to the collapse of Brisbane-based building corporation Cullen Group.

Tradeline Site Solutions co-owner Stuart Cooper said being cheated out of money was horrible.

"It makes you really have to tighten up for a number of months to recover from that,” Mr Cooper said.

Over a period of 12-18 months, Mr Cooper supplied Cullen Group with construction materials for projects in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.

His respected business on McEvoy St is one of 650 in Queensland and New South Wales owed $45 million in total when the building giant collapsed in December 2016.

Insolvency records show the figure owed to Tradeline Site Solutions to be about $15,000.

"It does put a good deal of pressure on small business like us,” Mr Cooper said.

Warehouse assistant Wayne Fitzgerald is one of the dedicated workers employed by family-owned Warwick business Tradeline Site Solutions. The company is lobbying for tougher regulations on builders who leave subcontractors out of pocket.
TIME TO GET TOUGH: Warehouse assistant Wayne Fitzgerald is one of the dedicated workers employed by family-owned Warwick business Tradeline Site Solutions. Marian Faa

While slow payments were a warning sign ahead of the company's collapse, Mr Cooper said he was unaware Cullen Group had been trading insolvent at the time.

Established as a family business in 1994, Mr Cooper's tool supply business has garnered a reputation for quality and reliability in the construction industry.

But this was not the first time Mr Cooper has lost money in the wake of a company collapse.

"Things like this have happened before. It is not the first time by any means and not the last time either,” he said.

More than 50 building companies have collapsed in Queensland since 2013 leaving more than 7000 subcontractors unpaid.

Mr Cooper said the worrying trend prompted subcontractors to be wary when taking on new jobs.

"Late payment is the first thing to watch out for and then you talk to other subcontractors working on the site,” he said.

He hoped more regulation would be enforced.