Charity says state’s “top small business” provided poor service

Posted Thursday, Jun. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Topics: Small business

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A local family-run cancer foundation said it was appalled to read here this week that Houston-based Netbrands, aka 24hourwristbands.com, had been named the top small business in Texas by a federal agency, the Small Business Administration, despite an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau.

In fact, Laura Rutledge, who co-founded and helps run the Carley Rutledge Sarcoma Foundation, says the way Netbrands handled her last order “was unconscionable.”

It ended up costing the nonprofit, which has no paid employees, nearly $800, she said. Named for Rutledge’s 19-year-old daughter, the charity dispenses more than 90 percent of the donations it receives to research and cancer patients directly, according to a 2011 federal filing.

The silicone wristbands from Netbrands arrived weeks late, she said, and the lettering was either smudged or illegible. Shipped in original packaging from China, the bands gave off a strong chemical smell, she said.

Several previous orders were delivered without a hitch, said Rutledge, of Fort Worth. But when she complained about the last batch, Netbrands offered to replace the bands with a cheaper version and stick Rutledge for the cost of overnight shipping, she said.

When Rutledge refused, a customer service manager hung up on her, closed the claims account — effectively blocking her access — and, without notifying her, shipped back the rejected merchandise that she had returned, she said. Netbrands then told the group’s credit card company that Rutledge had approved the goods and the issue was “closed,” she said.

“I tried to get them to work with me,” she told us. “But they were belligerent.”

The BBB’s Houston franchise, which Rutledge hasn’t contacted, sent us similar examples of severe customer service lapses by Netbrands.

Mueen Akhtar, co-founder and chief financial officer of Netbrands, reiterated that with 15,000 orders a month, there are bound to be slips. He also made clear that he’d like to fix the situation with the cancer charity.

“I just spoke to someone from my team, they did in fact call her this morning,” he said in an email. “We have a lot of satisfied customers; we wouldn't have grown this fast if we were providing a bad service.”

But Rutledge told us that no one from the firm had called on Wednesday or left her a message.

More psychiatric hospitals

We’ve got some more details about a previously reported psychiatric facility under construction in southwest Fort Worth.

Mesa Springs hospital, a venture of Springstone Inc. of Louisville, Ky., expects to open in December as a 72-bed adult treatment center, says Barbara Schmidt, vice president of operations. It is at 5560 Mesa Springs Drive, near the intersection of Alta Mesa Boulevard and Granbury Road.

We mentioned the facility’s licensing in a January report on the rebound in psychiatric beds in Tarrant County, including Sundance Hospital’s expansion in southwest Arlington and Haven Behavioral Healthcare’s plans for a geriatric psychiatric hospital in Fort Worth’s Medical District. Since then, Audubon Behavioral Healthcare has also begun building a 48-bed geriatric psychiatric hospital at 6300 Overton Ridge Blvd.

Like the others, Schmidt said Springstone’s 51,000-square-foot facility is being built in response to growing demand. It will treat only adults at first but plans to move into adolescent services later, she said.

Springstone also operates psychiatric facilities in Carrollton, Indiana and Ohio, and is building in Cincinnati and in Georgetown, north of Austin. It also plans a Houston facility, Schmidt said.

Sellmark expanding

Mansfield-based Sellmark Corp. is breaking ground Friday on the second phase of a planned three-phase expansion at its headquarters and distribution center on Heritage Parkway.

The company, which makes and distributes products for the outdoor and hunting industries, said the $2 million expansion will provide room to grow.

“Right now, we are pushing our limits with the amount of people here,” President James Sellers said. “With this growth, we plan to continue creating more patents and trademarks and would also like to see more products being manufactured in the U.S.”

Sellmark has 55 employees but will likely end the year with as many as 70, Sellers said.

Sellmark is hosting a groundbreaking and public open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. Attendees can tour the facilities as well as test some of their products, the company said.

Sellmark makes crossbows, night-vision equipment, lasers, boresights, reflex sights, scopes, flashlights, binoculars and other accessories under the brands Firefield, Pulsar, Sight Mark, 12 Survivors and Southern Crossbow, according to its website.

Sellmark handles its distribution, marketing, sales, product development, accounting and quality assurance in Mansfield.

The company was founded in 2000 in Coppell and moved to Mansfield in 2003.

In 2011, it moved to its current 32,000-square-foot location, at 2201 Heritage Parkway, and is now adding 33,000 square feet. Construction is slated to be completed in February.

A third phase of 33,000 square feet could begin when this phase is completed, Sellers said.

Sellmark is also in the process of buying an adjacent lot that will have enough room for a 100,000-square-foot building, he said.

The company has more than 2,000 dealers worldwide, among them Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Amazon.com, Academy and Dick’s Sporting Goods in the U.S.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 sabaker@star-telegram.com Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 jfuquay@star-telegram.com Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 barry@star-telegram.com

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