knightsmall RICHARD ROOT

Hello, I am Richard Root, the owner of Hired Hands, a flooring installation firm in Anchorage. Our company presently has 200 workers on the job and three people who man the office.

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Hired Hands has not always been so large and care-free though.

When I first began my Anchorage contracting business in 2006 I trusted a couple of local business owners I should never have trusted. I was nearly put out of business, getting paid only half of what I was rightfully owed.

With one general-contractor I had a written agreement that violated the federal Davis-Bacon Act for the hourly wage rate. For that mistake not of my doing Hired Hands was actually kicked off the construction site for a period of time and then forced to double worker wages.

With a second general contractor, my largest by far, I was being cheated on my handshake agreement on just about every job we did for him, hundreds and hundreds of jobs.

But, attorney Stephen Merrill of Anchorage believed in me and in my two cases. He saw a way to win, but with no guarantees. He made both cases possible to bring in the first place.

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It was not easy. It was not without risk. Both cases had ups-and-downs big time. But I won both of my cases in court the hard way, at a trial. The law worked for me.

At the first trial heard before a judge, the mistaken numbers concerning Davis-Bacon wage rates were placed back on the general contractor and off of my company. A trial verdict of $24,000 was entered in a case where the pretrial offer to me was $5,000.

At the second trial, this one decided by a jury, my account of events and the figuring of my losses were largely accepted in the trial verdict. I was awarded $112,000 in a case where the pretrial offer was $14,000.

Mr. Merrill gave an incredible presentation at both trials and in two completely different ways. He is always well-prepared for court, including preparing me, his client. He is even funny and very humble at times, so unlike the stereotype for his profession.

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Those court recoveries allowed Hired Hands to grow into the large company it is now. It also made me a much better businessperson when it comes to paperwork and people.

It sure help to have expertise behind you when trying to grow a business and a young family too.

Stephen Merrill of Anchorage is the Alaska lawyer you want on your side, for more reasons than one.