Netbrands apologizes to local charity, pledges to make good on bad order

Posted Monday, Jun. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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You may recall our report about a local charity’s problems with Netbrands, a Houston firm selected as the top small business in Texas by the Small Business Administration despite an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau.

The family-run Carley Rutledge Sarcoma Foundation told us that Netbrands, aka 24hourwristbands.com, shipped them $800 worth of illegible and “toxic-smelling” bands, closed its claim file and then misled the charity’s credit company when the charge was disputed.

On Friday, Netbrands did a major mea culpa, saying that the foundation’s Laura Rutledge “did everything correctly.”

The firm’s customer service manager at the time dropped the ball, according to an email whose author identified himself as “Julian H.,” Netbrands’ public relations coordinator. “We now require managers to report any resolution that a client does not find satisfactory to supervisors.”

What’s more, Julian H. said, Netbrands is re-evaluating all of the complaints lodged with BBB, going back five years. The Houston BBB says there are more than 250 unsettled gripes in the past three years alone.

In addition, Netbrands will make good on Rutledge’s order, he pledged. “We do apologize for any inconvenience we may have inadvertently caused.”

Rutledge was thrilled.

“I am more than pleased because not only did they address my personal issue, they are addressing the problem as a whole and owning up to the fact that they were in error,” she emailed us. “This outcome is even better than resolving it through my credit card company because they have been called to account for the poor manner in which they have treated their customers. Win! Win! Win!”

Triumph moving Vought jobs

to Red Oak, but how many?

It’s been close to a year since Triumph Aerostructures said it might have to move its Vought aircraft components production out of its longtime west Dallas facility, which was sold, and by all indications the shift is moving ahead.

Last August and September, Triumph said the new owner of the former federal government building, which it had occupied for decades, wanted too much rent for the company to stay. The Berwyn, Pa.-based contractor had already begun work on a new assembly plant in Red Oak, in Ellis County, to build wings for Bombardier business jets, and at the time it said the 130-acre site had room for expansion.

Earlier this year, Triumph started construction on an additional, $102 million facility at the Red Oak site, just south of DeSoto. What’s not clear, however, is how many jobs will make the move from the Dallas factory to the company’s new facility.

Triumph spokeswoman Lynne Warne told us in an email last week that about 2,400 people work at its 9314 W. Jefferson Blvd. location, which manufactures wing, cabin and fuselage parts for helicopters and other aircraft. But in a tax abatement application filed with the state in March, Triumph says 847 jobs would be transferred to the new plant.

“Triumph has committed significant people and resources to developing and executing an orderly transition plan” from the Dallas facility to Red Oak, Warne wrote in the email. “Building a new site will result in a reduced footprint, more modern facilities and other associated improvements that bring inherent gains in efficiency that reduce the number of employees needed to accomplish certain tasks.

“While we anticipate headcount reductions, it is premature to discuss specific numbers at this time,” Warne wrote. She said the company expects to move into the new building in early 2014.

Hourly workers at the Jefferson Boulevard facility are represented by United Auto Workers Local 848 in Grand Prairie. Union officials did not respond to several phone messages and emails seeking comment about the jobs last week.

Triumph on June 7 announced that the Vought division won a $1.7 billion contract to design and build fuselage and tail sections for Embraer, the Brazilian business aircraft maker. But it hasn’t said where the work will be done.

“The Embraer award is an exciting win for Triumph,” Warne told us. “No final decision has been made as to where the structures will be built,” she said, and in the meantime, “We are asking employees to remain focused on their current work.”

Chamber launches

fund-raising campaign

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce is expected today to launch a new campaign to raise funds for its economic development efforts.

The chamber is doing away with the nearly 25-year-old program’s name, “Controlling Our Destiny,” and renaming it “Forward Fort Worth” and upping the ante.

The chamber began economic development efforts in 1989, when it was called upon to help recruit businesses to Fort Worth. Since then, the chamber said, those efforts have influenced more than 1,100 business relocations and expansions that resulted in about 250,000 jobs and billions of dollars in capital investments.

The efforts are not funded with public dollars. Rather, companies are asked to commit to annual donations. The chamber’s economic development arm currently has an annual budget of about $1.2 million, but wants to raise that to $1.5 million.

The Forward Fort Worth campaign will be chaired by Mayor Betsy Price, financier and real estate developer Ed Bass and BNSF CEO Matt Rose. David Berzina is the executive vice president of economic development for the chamber.

In April 2012, the Dallas Regional Chamber launched a new campaign for its economic development efforts and is trying to up its $800,000 budget to $4.2 million by 2014, according to reports.

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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