STRATUS Franchise: Are Stratus Master Franchisees Jumping Ship?

Rumors abound that several large Master Franchisees of Stratus Building Solutions are defecting to compete with their beleagured commercial cleaning franchisor… and they’re taking their unit-level franchisees with them.

(UnhappyFranchisee.com)  Stratus Building Solutions is under fire, both externally and, it seems, internally.

Externally, Stratus Building Solutions is defending itself from a lawsuit brought by attorney Jonathan Fortman on behalf of nearly 100 unit-level franchisees who claim that they were defrauded by the janitorial franchisor.

The allegations in Fortman’s lawsuit were damningly portrayed in a recent FOX 4 “Problem Solver” news report (See STRATUS Franchise Called “Pyramid Scheme” on FOX News).

Fortman contends that many of his clients invested thousands of dollars in the Stratus franchise for cleaning accounts they never received.  Others received cleaning accounts, only to have them taken away and given to other franchisees.

“They are stealing from people,” said Fortman in the news story,  “people are paying thousands of dollars and never getting an account.”

Internally, it’s rumored that major Stratus Master Franchisees are jumping ship.  Master Franchisees from Georgia and New York are rumored to have formed a new, independent cleaning brand and are forcing their unit franchisees to convert.

It’s rumored that a Midwest Stratus Master Franchisee is forming an independent co-op and inviting other Stratus Master Franchisees to join.

East Coast and SE Stratus Master Franchisees Are Going Independent… and Taking Unit Franchisees With Them.

Two of the top 4 Master Franchisees in the Stratus franchise system, Jeffrey Aibel (Atlanta, GA) and Ken Casseri (Buffalo, NY) have reportedly formed a new company (called Pro Squared Facility Services™ or Pro2) and taken aggressive steps to disassociate their operations from Stratus Building Solutions.

Other contacts and markets listed on the new Pro Squared website include Jitendra Kapur (Stamford, CT), Dave Boutwell (Jacksonville, FL), and Joel Craddock (Rochester, NY).

Pro Squared Facility Services

Stratus unit-level franchise owners under Aibel’s Master Franchisee entity (Paladin Building Services) received a sudden and harsh letter demanding that they cease any usage of the Stratus Building Solutions name or trademarks by May 30, 2012 (The letter was dated May 14, 2012).

Pro Squared Facility Services

 

The letter threatened unit-franchisees with non-payment for their work and termination of their franchise agreements if they do not immediately adopt the new name and discontinue all use of Stratus Building Solutions-branded apparel, business cards, and company names, and destroy, replace or de-brand Stratus Building Solutions-branded equipment, vehicles and/or chemicals.

More Stratus Building Solutions Franchise Rumors & Innuendo

Word from the UnhappyFranchisee.com grapevine has it that:

  • Another Stratus Master Franchisee in the Midwest is setting up a co-op for other Masters who want out of the system.
  • Stratus has been offering the Master Franchisees the ability to terminate their master franchise agreements by paying 6 months of royalties and agreeing to indemnification concerning the franchisee lawsuit.
  • As many as 40% of Stratus Master Franchisees may have ceased paying royalties.

As stated, the latter contentions are rumor and innuendo… If you have better information (or better rumors and innuendos), please add them as a comment below.

We have reached out to the Master Franchisees discussed and Stratus Building Solutions for clarification and comment to this story as well.

ARE YOU A STRATUS BUILDING SOLUTIONS FRANCHISE OWNER OR FRANCHISEE?  ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THE STRATUS BUILDING SOLUTIONS FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITY?  PLEASE SHARE A COMMENT BELOW.

Contact UnhappyFranchisee.com

131 thoughts on “STRATUS Franchise: Are Stratus Master Franchisees Jumping Ship?

  • May 18, 2012 at 10:16 pm
    Permalink

    Wow, it finally sounds like there will be JUSTICE for the people!

  • May 19, 2012 at 3:41 am
    Permalink

    I would not expect to get any official statement from Stratus. They are in total damage control mode now. The collapse we are seeing is pretty amazing considering that just three months ago, Stratus was making it known to anyone who would listen that Entrepreneur had chosen them as the #1 Commercial Cleaning Franchise. So what happened to get us to this point? The answer is that the Master Franchisees learned the truth. The got accurate information, only it was through the allegations contained in our lawsuits and not anything from their franchisor. What’s interesting, is that after we filed our lawsuits, many of the Master Franchisees were behind a constant barrage of internet postings publicly attacking me and the Unit Franchisees. However, we knew that the Masters would eventually step back and evaluate the facts set forth in our lawsuits in light of their own experiences and realize that this system is truly a pyramid scheme. Many of them were pushed off dead center after the Fox News story in Kansas City. The Masters now realize that they were sold a bill of goods based on bogus figures. Amazingly, the Masters didn’t really start comparing notes with each other until our lawsuit was filed. Stratus had been able to compartmentalize the operation in such a way that all communication went through Dennis Jarrett. His ability to control the flow of information allowed Stratus to isolate the masters. If a master asked about the performance of another master, they were told that such information was not relevant and they just needed to concentrate on applying the system to their own operation. What I find most interesting, is that the Master Franchisees were most upset by the information in our lawsuit that disclosed the Stratus was relatively new as the company had previously been a Master Franchisee of Jan-Pro. The importance of that disclosure is that it proved that Stratus had taken much longer to get the revenue it claimed came after only a few years of operation. That intentional misrepresentation will ultimately lead to Stratus’ downfall.
    Now the question becomes what will these new companies do? Will they simply perpetuate the flawed system utilized by Stratus and the countless other franchisors. I would hope they have learned something in this ordeal. They need to understand that the interests of the Unit Franchisees must be considered in their model. Rest assured we will be keeping an eye on their operations. Status quo is not an option. This is not about increasing the propfit margin of the master. it must be based on treating all parties fairly and complying with the obligations contained in the franchise agreements. I am cautiously optimistic that we may see some change. I tend to believe that the Masters were defrauded and are victims also. However, these individuals were in a much better position than the Unit Franchisees to protect themselves.

    The one thing missing from all of this is any discussion of what will be done for the Unit Franchisees who were basically robbed? So far, the talks between the Masters and corporate have not included the Unit Franchisees. The masters must realize that their success will determine whether these new businesses succeed or fail. They will not be able to simply split away, take the Unit Franchisees with them, and just act like nothing’s happened. The Unit Franchisees must be given some consideration for what flawed system put them through.

  • May 19, 2012 at 4:17 am
    Permalink

    Let us agree to the following and move on from there……

    a) Dennis Jarrett and Pete Freese, lied, scammed, mislead, committed fraud to the respective Master Franchisors first in order to get literally 200k plus from each and everyone of them in upfront licensing monies and quite literally millions of dollars from them in Royalty Payments, Franchise Notes, Territory Notes etc… Goes to the old saying “Fruit from the Poison Tree”! Without a doubt, they committed civil fraud, only question now because of the obvious violations in the Performa and other documents, the fact that those documents crossed state lines, the fact that those documents were used as the primary basis/proper of Masters all across this country to purchase licensing agreements, sign short/long term notes etc… if criminal charges may apply.

    b) The system as outlined and especially the model that the two of them directly copied from Jan-Pro is flawed on multiple levels.

    c) The Masters of Stratus as a whole and vast majority are good, upstanding, community oriented citizens throughout their respective states and areas. They are the linchpin of what is happening now in the system. They have discovered the truth, they are not taking it on the chin anymore and in fact by doing what they are doing are protecting the long-term rights of the owner-operators or unit franchisees of their respective offices.

    d) The Masters of Stratus were/are victims of fraud committed by the founders of Stratus. They are taking steps by withholding Royalty Payments as outlined previously, filing legal letters and/or lawsuits against Stratus Corp., have broken away/in the process of breaking away as outlined prior and are beginning to discuss things openly and seeing what the next step is to be taken quickly and hopefully uniformally.

    e) Some, I would be surprised if it is not at least 50% of the disgruntled unit franchisees have a legitimate claim of wrong doing….The question is really who is at fault? Master, Stratus Corp., Flawed Model. The other % is simply unhappy, unqualified, uninspired and quite frankly would have failed regardless of the support they got from the Master.

    f) You were attacked and looking back, wrongfully so…….

    g) Unit franchisees/Owner-Operators were attacked, many of them, wrongfully so…..

    I believe that there will be much more information coming openly and honestly in the coming days/weeks/months. At least give some credit to the Masters, this is a major/gutsy move, that to date, has not happened in the respective systems of Jani-King, Jan-Pro, Coverall to this extent.

  • May 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm
    Permalink

    Reasoned Source, I certainly agree that the Masters have shown incredible courage in taking these steps so swiftly. There will be rough times ahead. If all parties can work work together to develop a system that allows input from all stakeholders, it could help the industry regain some credibility.

  • May 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm
    Permalink

    Jon Fortman writes “Now the question becomes what will these new companies do? Will they simply perpetuate the flawed system utilized by Stratus and the countless other franchisors.”

    The bullying, demanding, threatening tone of the letter from Paladin BS, Pro Squared or Pro2 or whatever they call themselves to the unit franchisees certainly doesn’t indicate that a kinder gentler franchisor is being borne.

    The Master franchise defection reminds me of those creatures in mythology, where the hero cuts off one head and two more emerge. Instead of Stratus snakes, now there will be multiple brands of snakes across the US. Aren’t these Masters the guys who did the deceptives franchise sales, the bogus terminations and the sleazy account swapping in the first place?

    Now they are morally outraged and indignant at the franchisor? Such chutzpah! If the masters are “good, upstanding, community oriented citizens,” like Reasoned Source says, who did the scamming in their territories? Someone please explain this to me.

    Another thing I find puzzling is that this Paladin, Jeffrey Aibels, Casseri, etc. can demand that unit franchisees who were sold a STRATUS BUILDING SOLUTIONS franchise can be forced to throw out their logoed work clothes, destroy chemicals and business cards, change company names, debrand vehicles, modify equipment BY THE SAME PEOPLE who sold them on the Stratus brand and sold them those things in the first place! For these franchisees to be given two weeks under the threat of non-payment and termination is unconsionable.

    Unit franchisees are treated like indentured servants or slaves in this process. Pro Squared is certainly treating them like property. Too bad that the rebellion against Stratus just means “Masters” (or Massas – that sure is the right name for them) get to run their own plantations and keep all the plunder for themselves.

  • May 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm
    Permalink

    I see a cycle of bad behavior, practice and ethics having the opportunity to continue.. If the court doesn’t come in and shut down this “model” that Stratus has pioneered nothing is really getting accomplished. Pro2 and the others that have branched off can’t possibly think their intentions are any better. They picked up bad habits that they are gonna enhance on. Pro2 and the others need to just pay their Unit Franchisees as what they have always been, EMPLOYEES, BUT at the decent wages they desreve.

  • May 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm
    Permalink

    Guest, There are a couple of points that I would like to make that I believe may/may not answer all of your questions….Possibly Mr. Fortman could weigh in.

    a) My guess is the letter from Paladin was actually crafted by Stratus Corp. and had to be delivered to the Unit Franchisees as a final act of seperation under the terms and agreement between Paladin and Stratus Corp. Though I have no direct knowledge, I can honestly state for the record that Jeff Aibel is a good person, what was said in public is sometimes one thing, what is said as the letter was delivered by the management team of Paladin very well could be another.

    b) As stated prior, most/vast majority of the “Masters” in the Stratus Brand are good, honest, hardworking, family men/women…..I don’t think but a very small % may have actually gone in with the idea of “fleecing the sheep”, most went in with bright eyes and bushy tails and sold the system they were taught and believed in until Major Problems started happening with business owed not being filled, the Fortman lawsuits being filed, the flaws in the model were exposed etc….

    Finally, I think it is important to not only applaud but necessary to support these Masters in their endeavor, but let me remind all of you, that Stratus is a relatively new company in terms of age. Most of the Masters you are talking about have actually been in business as a Stratus Master for 4 Years or Less! Let us look at the respective ages of the “Big Three” for comparison and how long they have been in business, using the same model and how few if any, Masters have risen up against the Fraud, the Lies, the Model and the System Owners such as Dennis Jarrett and Pete Freese.

    You cannot protect the majority of the current owner-operators by simply having everyone go to court against one another, you cannot stop people like Dennis Jarrett and Pete Freese, now or in the future, by “swatting at knats” from the outside as the current cases on the books in numerous states have failed in actually stopping the Coverall’s, Jani-King’s, Jan-Pro’s and others….. This Revolt is Real, this Revolt is the Master Franchisors actually Joining the Disgruntled, Lied Too, Disenfranchised Owner-Operators and stating for a fact that NO MORE will this type of Model, Behavior, Fraud be allowed to be committed in this industry…… The true way to Stop this Mess once and for all is to show a path for Master/Regional Directors of other so-called “brands” that if this can happen to Stratus, it can/will happen to you.

  • May 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm
    Permalink

    I can also assure you that Pro2 Facility Services nor the rumored Co-op that is in the works have any intention of utilizing the unit franchisee model. The Co-op being discussed is completely removed from the unit franchisee and “business owed” model that Stratus currently, Jan-Pro, Jani-King, Coverall is utilzing.

    You need to understand the true “flaws” in the model in order to understand how this all came about and what is really about to happen to Stratus and hopefully this model as a whole.

    Be patient, Be supportive and I can almost guarantee you, the Fraud Artists that are currently in charge at Stratus will not be in this model/position much longer….

  • May 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm
    Permalink

    Good points, Reasoned Source.

    Many of the most successful scams, historically, are those that make the victim enough of a partner in the fraud that they are reluctant to speak out or fight back, knowing their hands are soiled too. I think that’s what makes the Master franchise relationship so diabolical, not just here but in health club, & other industries as well.

    Masters put up big upfront money with the only way to recoup their investments being to sell franchises. What happens if they realize that most unit franchises are not going to be viable? What happens if they realize the franchisor is a liar and a crook? They can’t expose or even fail to defend the franchisor without kissing their chances of selling franchises goodbye. They have to find a way to justify selling franchises they know will fail. Maybe they are good people, or were, but their families come first, they’ve got loans to repay, perhaps some from friends and family, so they find themselves doing some unsavory things.

    What a great con game, for franchisors with no conscience.

    So if Pro2 and the other brave Masters (and I’m not being entirely sarcastic. They do finally have the balls to say enough is enough) want to change the game and do things on the up and up (unlike every franchise competitor, it seems), how are they planning to do that? I’m sure they are reading this blog by now. Are they willing to share the strategic model they are going to use that will stop this con game?

    I agree with Ex Stratus Franchisee. These unit franchisees are not business owners and shouldn’t be classified as such. What business owner is forbidden from having a direct relationship with their customers? What business owner can be stripped of their company name and told to wear unmarked clothing? MA is right. They are employees.

    The challenge these Masters are going to face is kind of like what domestic manufacturers face competing with overseas sweatshops. Can a company treating its people fairly compete against those who abuse their employees (or franchisees) in a price-sensitive market?

    It would be great if these Masters shared how they proposed to do that. If they are sincere, it might make the legal attacks on them by their franchisees a little less intense.

  • May 19, 2012 at 5:36 pm
    Permalink

    Guest, be patient and you will need to trust that what I am saying is true…..Not everything can be revealed at this time and certainly not in a “public forum” such as this. However, it won’t take long….The Masters of Stratus have taken action, are taking action and will continue to take action until Pete Freese and Dennis Jarrett are either out of this business/brand or if needed, put in jail.

    The fraud that they committed is outrageous and does not solely rely on the false Performa given to the Masters in presentations all across this country and in Missouri. Those that are still supporting Dennis and Pete are dwindling in numbers literally by the hour. The financial costs that they would incur by fighting additional Masters, Fortman and other attorney’s is taking a tremendous toll on them and they have a choice to make and very soon….They do not have the pockets of Coverall, Jan-Pro, Jani-King and the fraud that Dennis and Pete committed was in the beginning, was put in writing, was talked about to literally hundreds of potential Masters and the current Masters.

    These men committed Fraud in the most outrageous form, they did it in the beginning, did not change their FDD, did not see/did not care to see the EVIL position that they put good, honest, family men/women that are current Masters.

    Only real question left, do they leave in time, are they too stubborn to see the end, are they really willing to potentially go to jail?

    Time is of the essence for them and the brand as a whole.

  • May 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm
    Permalink

    It sure is a shame that they didnt run their business with integrity. From the bottom up, they have ruined people financially. I am grateful to Jonathan Fortman for exposing this company and giving people like myself a voice, but what happens to the franchisees now??? What happens to the franchisees being forced to sign up under Pro 2 and these new businesses.I hope the issues we brought to the table don’t fall 2nd to all the new legal letters and lawsuits Stratus is being bombarded with by the Masters

  • May 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm
    Permalink

    One thing I can assure you is that we continue fighting for the Unit Franchisees. My concern, like yours, is that the people hurt the most would be lost in the battle between the masters and Stratus. I see my role at this point to be finding creative ways of resolving the issues so that the Unit Franchisees are compensated for their losses while giving the masters leaving the system a chance to survive. If the system completely collapses with everyone just fighting for their own self-interests, it will not work. Reasoned Source, who I know to be someone with intimate knowledge of what he discusses, has set forth a plan which will totally change the model. I think the model he describes is the only model that can work. As far as having the court come in and finally put an end to this type of model, I can tell you that I would never count on that to happen. Our approach to the Stratus case was much different than the approach taken in Massachusetts. The only way to change this industry, is to stand up and put immediate pressure on these con men. Coverall is having to pay $3 million as an appeal bond. However, they will make so much more than that in profit while they continue to operate as the case winds through the court system. If they lose, it’s easy to just shut down one company and start several others. I am convinced that we have to put so much economic pressure on these companies and make it impossible for them to sell more franchises. I don’t have extensive knowledge of Jan-Pro or any of the others. However, profit drives all these companies and there is always a way to hit their bottom lines. That’s how the changes will occur.

  • May 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm
    Permalink

    Jonathan,
    I commend you on your desire to fight for the unit franchisees. I agree that many have been treated unfairly. However, in your battle, I would hope you would be able to discern between the ones that have truly been wronged and ones that truly have themselves to blame for their plight.

    I agree there are some serious issues with the model, which are coming to light. However, there are unit franchisees that have also not treated this undertaking as a person who is serious about building a business should. For example, not resolving issues after multiple customer complaints, not showing up to clean accounts, etc. I’m not trying to defend the model – I think it would be difficult to defend this model. However, I am saying that some of the unit franchisees have only themselves to blame. Others, such as the ones that never received their business, obviously have been wronged by the franchisor.

  • May 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm
    Permalink

    Guest writes “I would hope you would be able to discern between the ones that have truly been wronged and ones that truly have themselves to blame for their plight… there are unit franchisees that have also not treated this undertaking as a person who is serious about building a business should. For example, not resolving issues after multiple customer complaints, not showing up to clean accounts, etc.”

    It seems hard to believe that it would be a widespread occurence that people would pay for profitable cleaning jobs, then either not show up or not to the job right.

    Are these profitable jobs that you are referring to, or are they so underbid that the franchisees either lose motivation or can’t afford to put in the necessary time? What are these jobs worth per hour to the franchisees who are neglecting them? Why would they walk away from that money?

    How widespread is the problem of slacker or absent franchisees? What are you doing to screen out the slackers in the “selection” process? I don’t mean to dismiss your point, and some slackers will be inevitable, but if your selection process only involves fogging a mirror and the check clearing, that might be the reason for your problem.

    How is an attorney going to be able to decide who’s a deadbeat franchisee if you couldn’t?

  • May 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm
    Permalink

    You have both identified the difficulty in these cases. Our position is much more fundamental, though. Our position is that if the Unit Franchisees were aware of the flaws within the system they would not have spent their money on this franchise in the first place. In a case in which the franchisee is induced into signing a franchise agreement based upon inaccurate information provided by the franchisor, the issue is whether the franchisee had a right to rely on the information being accurate. If there are clauses in the franchise agreement that guarantee a certain level of income, but franchisor knows that there are exceptions which basically render the guarantee worthless, then there is an issue at the time the agreement is signed. If a franchisee has been fraudulently induced into signing the franchise agreement, they are entitlled to be put back in the position they would have been had the fraud not occurred. Stated differently, the franchise agreement may be voided by the Unit Franchisee and they would get a refund of all amounts they paid into the system less any revenue their franchise may have generated. In any system, flawed or not, there will be some franchisees who should never have purchased a franchise under any circumstance. However, when the system is flawed, there is now way to really tell because some franchisees simply give up once they realize they have been taken. The Franchisor must bear the burden of full restitution to all franchisees as Franchisor failed to provide complete disclosure.

  • May 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm
    Permalink

    I agree with Guest2 when you said “It seems hard to believe that it would be a widespread occurence that people would pay for profitable cleaning jobs then not show up or not do the job right”. In a time when the economy has been at its worst, peole are taking a chance and believing this may be the big break they need to make decent money and have something they can call their OWN. Your gonna work harder for the simple fact that your livelihood depends on YOU and you don’t have anything to fall back on but YOU. So when Guest stated that franchisees are not showing up to clean accounts or have not addressed customer complaints, there is alot that needs to be considered about that statement before we just assume a unit franchisee would throw money out the window.

  • May 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm
    Permalink

    What I don’t understand is this, if the business model is the same by Stratus, Jan King, Jan Pro, Coverall , etc, then what did Stratus promise its Masters that has created this mini revolt? I don’t see Masters from other companies revolting. What did Stratus do that was different? I agree that the business model is dishonest, and highly skewed. But what is the real difference that has set the Masters off?

  • May 22, 2012 at 4:54 am
    Permalink

    Rick and others, I am about to answer your questions……. But read this entire thread as I am sure EVERYONE following this situation including the Balance of the Masters that are still sitting on the fence……

    Before Stratus was ever a dream of Pete Frese and Dennis Jarrett, these gentlemen along with Carmen Garcia were party too, knew of, oversaw lawsuits envolving literally hundreds of unit franchisees against Coverall, Jani-King, Jan-Pro. They knew everything about these lawsuits including and most especially the flaws overall in the model. I suggest everyone looks closely at Carmen Garcia as what she is accused of doing along with Dennis Jarrett in the Goldeneye Case happened before while both were at Coverall…You will need to look at a case in California.

    What was Pete Frese’s and Dennis’ reason for forming Stratus? Simply, they were tired of only making 100k plus as executives, part-owners, regional directors of Jan-Pro, Coverall, Jani-King. They simply wanted the “theives share” that their former bosses including Jaque LaPointe was getting…They figured they could get in, make several million dollars and get out just like LaPointe.

    Look at their executive team, both currently and the supposed “big news” that is about to happen as they bring in another drunk, womanizer, theif in general that was recently terminated by Jan-Pro as their Field Sales Manager. You will see a pattern of industry (franchising/unit franchising) experience as they too have been party too, knew of, understand what is happening, but they have a job making over 100k per year, they don’t do much, but show their loyalty and kiss DJ and Pete’s rump on a regular basis. Those people couldn’t get a job in commercial cleaning as a mid or low level manager, yet they have executive titles at Stratus. Let us remember a former executive at Stratus was let go for drunkedness, womanizing, sexual harrassment allegations in the recent past. (BB)

    So now to answer Rick’s and others questions:

    a) When they formed Stratus, they took the former Jan-Pro Master/Branch in St. Louis with approx. 600k in yearly revenue and started Stratus. Problem is, all their figures, all their infromation both printed and verbal was based on the lie that they actually started Stratus from scratch/zero. Obviously, in this business, there is a great difference in how numbers are achieved if you are starting at 600k vs. Zero. Things look really good if you are at 1.2 million at the end of Year One if you started from zero vs. 600k. Problem for them is, they didn’t disclose that little issue either in writing or in verbal presentations made not only in their St.Louis Branch but in presentations all over the United States.

    b) When they gave Performa information in regards to Sales Targets, Telemarketing Information, Start Up Costs etc…All were skewed because of that major difference, as well as they lumped numerous items together to come up with some of those target figures.

    c) They made promises of “Affiliated Services” as a “value added” program to the Commercial Cleaning/Unit Franchise/Master Aspect that you were purchasing. They stated that they would have Landscaping, Security, Pest Control Services added in the near future which would be given to you at no additional charge. Here they are 6 Years later and NO Affiliated Services are off the ground.

    When you make presentations, give Performa documentation as a “proper” of an offering, there are legal ramifications for false statements in order to “gain” investments. Masters are Investors in the same basic term as are Unit Franchisees. They are investing in a Brand, they are investing in Past Financial Performance, they are investing in a Model. THEY (Pete and DJ) had a legal obligation to expose any knowledge that would “skew” or possibly “skew” anyone’s reasoned decision making process to invest. They lied about knowing about obvious flaws in the model, they lied about the financial information given both in writing and verbally, they lied about “projections” in regards to telemarketing figures, sales figures, profitability figures, they lied about bringing on Affiliated Services.

    So now let me bring you up to date and make a Plea to the approx. 20 Masters still sitting on the fence in regards to joining forces to completely remove Pete Freese and Dennis Jarrett by any legal means possible.

    1) I have shown you specific lies that these men have done to you, Fortman in his lawsuits has shown you the way and confirmed almost all of the statements that I have made in his lawsuits, you need to look at the Goldeneye Lawsuit where it has been alleged that Dennis Jarrett and Carmen Garcia directly assisted the “uprising” that Peter Vevan had happened to him with his unit franchises, though Peter Vevan had created most of his issues, they threw gasoline on the fire at the very least. You ask how they did that, really pretty simple, they had all of the unit franchisees names/numbers/contact information whether they got that through the FDD, BOSS System, Marvin Ashton (executive at Stratus) or “Fernando” former Franchise Salesperson for Vevan currently working for another Stratus Office.(reportidly) Remeber, this is act two from a play done earlier at Coverall by Dennis Jarrett and Carmen Garcia.

    2. On a daily/near daily basis, Marissa Lather and Pete Frese monitor the stratusclean.com email site that is supposed to be secured. However, many masters have had direct conversations with Pete Frese (especially recently) that the only way he could have known specifics was if he had gotten ahold of email information between that particular Master and someone else/party.

    3. Recently, Pete Frese got the code to a teleconference meeting that was being had by 12 Masters. Pete Frese was not invited to the meeting as the meeting was an open discussion of issues that envolved the Brand, Figures given in the Performa, problems with the FDD/UFOC provided by Stratus Corp. and other issues. Some of those Masters are the one’s that have formed Pro2 Services. Pete did not announce his presence, did not let anyone know that he was listening. In fact, the only way someone knew/could have known about this meeting is the email conversations that went around the stratusclean email site or if someone in the 12 had leaked it. Considering that 5 of the 12 are in active litigation, 2 of the 12 have finished their litigation and the balance of the 12 are either holding royalty payments and/or considering litigation, my bet is that Pete Frese and/or Marissa Lather provided that infromation via the stratusclean.com email site.

    Finally, Pete Frese yesterday spent the day calling Masters all across this country attempting to do damage control…I find that funny and a great waste of time and resources. Pete and DJ are theives, they are surrounded by destructive, less than honerable people, they run an organization founded on lies/deception/theft/fraud. By the way, theft happened when they literrally copied the model, copied the documents, copied the spreadsheets from Jan-Pro without permission, repayment of copyright/trademark to Jan-Pro. If I were Jan-Pro, I would be seeking a lawsuit against these two for that…..

    If these are the kinds/types of people that you want to be associated with, don’t blame anyone else other than yourself for being “dirty”. You are simply guilty by associatiion, by standing by and doing nothing with all of the facts layed out here and in the Fortnman, Goldeneye Lawsuits you are nothing but COWARDS! Jeff Aibel, Ken Cassiri and others are HERO’s for doing what they have done/are doing….WHAT ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO?

    Finally, anyone have a copy of the current Stratus Master FDD? Wonder if it is still showing NO LITIGATION and NO FAILURES in the system….Did any of you ever wonder what happened to the previous owners/branches? Minneapolis, Central New Jersey, Kansas City, Nebraska?

    TIME TO GET OFF THE FENCE AND MOVE THESE LIARS, CHEATS, THIEVES AND Scam Artists not only out of Stratus, but out of this industry as a whole…At least here in the United States and Canada.

    By the way, might want to contact Jeff Aibel and/or Ken Cassiri and ask them whatever happened to Canada and what happened with Ken Cassiri’s people that were actually making progress in the Landscaping Offering at one time. If you still have any questions/doubt about the honesty/integrity/business ethics of Dennis Jarrett and Pete Frese.

  • May 22, 2012 at 10:15 am
    Permalink

    For anyone not familiar with the Goldeneye lawsuit, this is from the OC Register Jan. 18, 2012:

    “Fifty-two Orange County residents have accused a company that sells janitorial franchises of fraud and targeting non-English speakers in a civil lawsuit filed Jan. 11 in Orange County Superior Court.

    The lawsuit names as defendant Goldeneye Holdings Inc. doing business as Stratus Building Solutions of Orange, 333 S. Anita Drive in Orange.

    “Stratus is a master franchiser for St. Louis-based Stratus Building Solutions, which offers 16 different building service franchise plans, according to a 2009 press release. That release named Petar Vavan as owner of the Orange County-based company….

    The suit claims that Stratus Building Solutions of Orange “target(s) victims who don’t speak English … by only advertising in Spanish-speaking publications.”

    A company representative speaks to prospects only in Spanish but then has franchise agreements only in English, said plaintiffs’ attorney A. Eric Aguilera of Bohm, Matsen, Kegel & Aguilera LLP in Costa Mesa.

    “All the plaintiffs have Spanish surnames and all live in Orange County, Aguilera said.

    “”They are told, ‘this is your chance at the American dream, to own your own business,'” he said. “None has received a franchise after paying the fees.”

    “Stratus promises a monthly income based on how much the buyer pays, according to the lawsuit. If a person invests $3,000 the yearly income is $6,000, according to a franchise plan with Stratus Building Solutions’ logo. An investment of $13,500 promises a yearly income of $36,000 and an investment of $47,000 promises a yearly income of $204,000.

    “”But (Stratus) doesn’t have the cleaning contracts (with commercial buildings) that they promise,” Aguilera said…

    “A Missouri attorney, Jonathan Fortman, sued Stratus in St. Louis, Mo. in August claiming the company provided false and misleading information to get people to sign franchise agreements. He is seeking class action status for that lawsuit…”

  • May 22, 2012 at 11:10 am
    Permalink

    Reasoned Source:

    Thanks for the informative comment. You covered a lot of ground.

    So Dennis Jarrett was the Jan-Pro Master franchisee in St. Louis, and converted that existing operation into Jan-Pro?

    Does anyone know what deal he struck with Jan-Pro that they let him walk away?

    Are you saying none of the Masters knew that he had already been operating in St. Louis as Jan-Pro previously? When did they learn the truth?

    It’s more than a little ironic if Jarrett broke away from Jan-Pro and now his Masters are breaking away from him in the same way, isn’t it?

    I’m not clear on the Goldeneye story. Peter Vavan was a Coverall Master when Jarrett was Vice President? And Jarrett encouraged the unit franchisees to sue him? What did he get out of doing that? And who is Carmen Garcia?

    Thanks. It’s tough to tell the scammers without a scorecard.

  • May 22, 2012 at 11:57 am
    Permalink

    I meant to write “Peter Vavan was a STRATUS master and Jarrett encouraged the unit franchisees to sue him? What did Jarrett get out of doing that? And who is Carmen Garcia?

  • May 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm
    Permalink

    @ Guest….I know there was alot of information and if you re-read it, most of your questions would be answered.

    Pete Frese actually was the owner of the branch in St. Louis as it was a former Jan-Pro Branch.

    There was alot of things going on with Jan-Pro at the time of seperation, technically Jaque Lapointe negotiated a seperation deal with Pete and Dennis as kind of a “parting gift” as he was preparing to sell majority stake of Jan-Pro to Greentree Capital.

    When Fortman’s lawsuit was filed against Simpatico (holding company for both the former Jan-Pro Branch in St. Louis as well as the current holding company for the Stratus Branch in St. Louis)

    Frese and Jarrett’s leaving from Jan-Pro is NOTHING like the seperation that is happening with the Stratus Masters. Frese and Jarrett are attempting anything and everything in order to get these Masters to try and stay including admitting issues/guilt with the Performa and then attempting to threaten by intimidation with lawyers blessing.

    What did Jarrett have to gain from putting Peter Vevan out of business? How about control of the branch, how about attempting to silence someone that was quesitoning issues within Stratus and the overall unit franchise model, how about greed/lies/intimidation by stating IF YOU CAUSE ME PROBLEMS (other Masters) THIS TOO CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!

    Who is Carmen Garcia? She is currently an Executive with Stratus. Current title changes almost daily, but I believe she has the title of Master Franchise Development. In the past, she was a mid-level executive with Coverall as stated prior. Look for a California Case that has her name associated with it during her time at Coverall and Dennis Jarrett’s time at Coverall, you will be surprised at what you find!

    @ Current Stratus Masters, you need to “man up” and get ready to finish this fight sooner than later. The Royalties are getting less and less everyday, every hour that we speak, we learned just today, a LARGE MASTER has decided to withhold his Royalty Payments until some sort of meaningful resolution has happened. NOTHING can happen with Pete Frese and Dennis Jarrett at the Helm of Stratus, YOU built this Brand, Your reputation is on the line, Your way of doing business and what you SOLD to your owner-operators is in question and it must be resolved NOW!

  • May 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm
    Permalink

    @ Fortman there will be an opportunity to work together to settle the claims of legitimate owner-operators that had been wronged by either the Master or Stratus Corp. Most of the Masters that I am in contact with, realize that there must be some sort of opportunity to resolve the past owner-operator issue. Rest assured, the “new model” which completely removes the unit franchisee and the “business owed” aspect going forward will not present a problem like what is currently being faced by owner-operators that feel/have felt they were “wronged”.

    However, NOTHING can be worked out until the Pete Frese/Dennis Jarrett question has been put on a path of settlement. The Masters simply do not have the resources for both, simply cannot afford to settle with unit franchisees and fight a possible long-term battle with Stratus Corp. What can/will happen is a guarantee that moving forward whether you are speaking about the Pro2 Services or the Co-op forming, NEITHER have a unit franchisee model at its core.

    Stratus Corp./Pete Frese/Dennis Jarrett are all the same at this point in time, they are Scam Artists, they have committed Fraud on multiple levels including Mail Fraud, Securities Fraud and other potential criminal issues. If they don’t release the Masters fully (with payments/penalties/promissory notes forgiven) and Quickly…… then ALL Forces will be brought to bear including supplying documents to every State Attorney/Attorney General in all states currently supporting Stratus Masters, the State of Missouri and other criminal based sources.

    Once that agreement is in place, a fund from Stratus Corp. must be put in control of the new co-op which will be used to settle the unit franchise cases in Missouri and California. All other “claims” will be looked at reasonably and with open eyes which may include an opportunity that is partially cash payment and a reasonable amount of “business owed” to fulfill quickly.

  • May 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm
    Permalink

    One final note, Marissa Lather, David Farrell, Marvin Ashton, Bob Stapleton, Carmen Garcia and any other manager currently working for Stratus Corp. or the Stratus Branch in St. Louis owned by Pete Freese/Simpatico…YOU are accountable for your actions, your associations, your roles in various issues. Do not think for a moment that you shouldn’t be held accountable simply because you are “employee’s” MOST of you know exactly the type of people you are working with/for, MOST of you have had some “part” of the demise of this brand and have willingly withheld information, documentation and been in meeting’s with or party too conversations that you know to be Wrong, Immoral, Unprofessional and in some cases Criminal…GROW UP AND MOVE ON NOW!

  • May 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm
    Permalink

    I’ve been following these posts with great interest and intend to weigh in later today. Fortunately, I have a wife who occasionally enjoys my company and I promised her that there would be no posting during date night. I’ll just say for now that Reasoned Source is providing very accurate information.

  • May 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm
    Permalink

    Rick asked why there’s been no revolt of the masters in Jan-Pro and Jani-King like there has been with Stratus. I think the way in which we approached this case even before suit was filed was partly responsible for the ultimate position taken by the Masters looking to get out of the Stratus system. In Jan-Pro and Jani-King, the masters were named as defendants along with the corporate franchisor. Those cases are seeking recovery under an employment misclassification theory and plaintiffs are arguing that corporate should be jointly and severally liable due to the level of control they exerted over the masters. There really is no distinction between the bad acts of the master and the flaws in the system. Our approach was that we viewed the masters as potential victims who were misled into buying a system that Jarrett and Frese knew was flawed. Some of the Stratus masters previously held senior-executive positions at Fortune 500 companies. These are very astute businessmen. I find it very difficult to believe that men with such backgrounds would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a master franchise had the true metrics been disclosed to them. We filed our nationwide class action case asking for one thing: a declaration from the court that under Missouri law, Stratus Franchising exerted, or had the right to exert, so much control over its Masters that it, in effect, meant the masters were merely the agents of Stratus. The cases out east have languished in the courts because the court must look at the relationship also. However, by naming the master as a defendant, the master must be allies with corporate to protect their interests. We never put the Stratus masters into that position. Instead, we went forward believing that the Masters and the Unit Franchisees had common interests. Rather than developing an adversarial relationship with the masters, we made it clear that while we believe some of them mistreated the Unit Franchisees, those actions were the result of a flawed model sold to them. In no way does that excuse the actions of some of the masters.

    I have been representing clients in the commercial cleaning industry for 17 years. Most people who are not involved in this industry have absolutely no idea the amount of money at stake. I have represented some rich people over the years. The man making the most money was in this business. At one time, he personally made $105,000.00 per week. Money makes people very greedy. There is no loyalty and guys like Dennis Jarrett live their lives always suspicious that someone will try and screw them. They must exert as much control as possible so that they can keep an eye on those entrusted with their model. Dennis Jarrett knows this because he did the exact same thing to his prior employer because he saw dollar signs. My point is that the masters in any of these systems cannot be given full disclosure. The cleaning business is not rocket science. The model is easily replicated. The only protection is to withhold enough information to make it more difficult for someone to compete.

    I am convinced now more than ever that it is simply impossible to have a fully functional franchise system in this industry. That is especially true when utilizing the master franchise model. Having so many hands out as you go up the chain makes it impossible to be profitable. Instead of concentrating on acquisition of accounts with sufficient profit margins, the Masters must rely on the sale of franchises to survive. This is one of the most competitive businesses around. Prices can be driven down so low that there is no margin at all. The price of a master franchise is frontloaded and is so high because Stratus knows that they cannot rely on the ongoing royalties to stay afloat.

    Very shortly we will again put Stratus and the Masters on notice that the Unit Franchisees should be kept in the loop in these matters. It is good to hear from Reasoned Source that the Unit Franchise model will be eliminated. However, I hear from more and more of the Unit Franchisees every day who tell me the same story over and over again. These people deserve to be compensated just as the Masters. The Unit Franchisees applaud the Masters who have identified the flaws and want to proceed in the right way. We are cautiously optimistic that these Masters recognize the harm caused to my clients. Ultimately this comes down to monetary compensation for the Unit Franchisees. Will greed once again interfere with doing the right thing? We’ll find that out soon enough.

  • May 23, 2012 at 4:31 am
    Permalink

    @ Marissa Lather, Bob Stapleton, Carmen Garcia, David Farrell, Marvin Ashton and any other manager currently working in the St. Louis Branch/Office…I want to be clear on the following, YOU NEED TO RESIGN IMMEDIATELY! The Masters are putting all of you on notice and stating for the record, We consider you only one step below Pete Frese and Dennis Jarrett. We know for a fact that each of you have held conversations and been party to discussions that at least were immoral, unprofessional and some actually have civil/criminal penalties. WE know for a fact that Marissa Lather, Carmen Garcia and Marvin Ashton have participated directly in wrongful acts in regards to civil action.

    @Dennis Jarrett and Pete Frese, you will be hearing shortly a final offer for you to step away from the Brand and settle with Most/All current Master Owners immediately. There will be demands made of you to form a fund that must address the reasonable settlement for the harmed unit franchises in both the Missouri Case and California Case. This will be your only moment to settle and you must agree and put into writing an agreement letter that reflects the above for mutual release.

    Time is of the essence……..

  • Pingback: STRATUS BUILDING SOLUTIONS: Open Letter From Unit Franchisees : Unhappy Franchisee

  • May 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm
    Permalink

    @ Dennis Jarrett and Pete Freese, so finally after 2 Years, you’ve decided to try and get everyone on a conference call to discuss the “state of the Fortman Case and in general, the state of Stratus”. So, let me give our viewers some updated information that I think they will all enjoy……..

    Maybe one of the Masters attending this call, would like to ask DJ and Pete about some of the following errors with their FDD…Meaning the following seems to be missing:

    Stratus of New Mexico- Closed in 2008
    Stratus of North Texas- Closed? No valid#
    Stratus of Richmond- Never opened, Stratus Franchising was sued by the State of Virgina and case was settled.
    Stratus of Las Vegas- Opened 2010, Closed 2011
    Stratus of Minneapolis- Opened 2008, Closed 2009

    Here are some statistics of a recent phone meeting that I was part of: This call included the following overall figures…I am sure you can guess what the general topic of conversation was about!

    Masters Present at this Meeting represented the following:

    Over 15 Million dollars per year in R/S and S/S Sales
    Over 50K per month in Royalty Payments (think that figure is going to go down/end as of June)
    10K per month in Promissory Notes (think that figure is going to go down/end as of June)
    3.5 Million dollars in upfront payments for purchasing of licensing fees/territories
    Over 1.5 Million dollars paid in Royalty Payments over the last 4 Years (Not all of these locations represented have been open 4 Years, needed to explain that to Pete, so he won’t be able to deny since it could be 1.6 or even 1.8)
    Over 15 Cities Represented.

    By the way, none of the Pro2FS people were part of this phone call…

    Now, also at Friday’s hastily called meeting, you will hear about the status of the “class action” lawsuit…No offense, how about the lawsuit vs. Simpatico? How about the “question” that Fortman sent to the court in the form of a suit which talks about whether or not the Masters can be sued in Missouri since the Master FDD states that ALL litigation between the Masters and Stratus Corp. must happen in Missouri. Maybe the attorney representing Stratus which is to be part of the call, will have the ability to ask/answer those questions. Maybe he can give you insight into other cases like the former cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Atlanta, CT, Jacksonville, Miami and any other pending lawsuits?

    @Pete Freese and Dennis Jarrett, do you fully understand what you have done? Do you have an idea that we are no longer talking about the Fortman Lawsuits solely? Do you have an idea that you committed FRAUD against all of the Masters by lying about your financials, your Performa Information, your lies have begat lies on multiple fronts? Do you understand that it is far too little and far too late? Do you understand that it is no longer just one or two or five Masters lined up against you? Do you understand that the Brand will not/cannot/shall not survive with you at the helm?

    Let me tell you the only thing that the Masters attending Friday’s conference call will want to hear from you?

    a) When are you packing your bags and closing your doors?
    b) When are you going to do right by the Masters and the harmed owner-operators?
    c) When are you going to sign the brand over to the control of the Masters?
    d) When are you going to de-brand your St. Louis Office?
    e) When will you have all mutual releases ready for any Master that wants one, which right now if I’ve missed one or two is north of 20 masters?

    Simply put, we want nothing to do with you any longer…..We consider you as guilty as Bernie Madoff and you are both disgusting human beings, cowards and frauds! I would personally prefer you going to jail for securities fraud and mail fraud, but the Masters in the group simply want nothing to do with you as quickly as quickly as possible, but that too may change and I may get my way afterall….

    Hope someone contacts DJ and/or Pete this p.m. to check my latest post, want them either drinking heavily or losing even more sleep than they have in the past few weeks/nights.

  • May 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm
    Permalink

    @ Dennis Jarrett and Pete Freese: By the way, our next meeting of the group will be adding some additional members, will attempt to update in regards to adjusted figures….Well maybe, it would be just easier to list the three or four that aren’t part of the group and what figures they represent……

    Also, want to be clear on the mutual release thing, WE ARENT PAYING YOU ONE MORE DOLLAR! You will be releasing of royalties, promissory notes, non-compete, non-disclosure etc…..YOU will be responsible for handling the issue directly in regards to the owner-operators harmed…..YOU caused the problem, YOU are responsible, YOU are going to do right by the Masters and the Owner-Operators that were harmed.

  • May 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm
    Permalink

    Way to go Reasoned Source and Fortman, bring the hammer down! Seems like all is quiet at Stratus Corp.

  • May 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm
    Permalink

    I was wondering when they would take the step of a conference call with all the masters. It is their last ditch effort to salvage their cash cow. They will take the opportunity to villify me again by blaming everything on the lawsuits we filed. I would hope that the masters would not buy into that bs. When I file a case like this, I only do it after hundreds of hours of investigation. Everything I ever posted was fully supported by facts verified by more than one source. Regardless of what you may have been told, I took the blog entries down as a show of good faith to try and spur some discussion with Stratus about our allegations. I was threatened more than once with a lawsuit by Stratus’ attorney at the time. My response every time was the same: do what you think you need to do because truth is an absolute defense. REasoned Source is dead on when he says this isn’t just about our suit. This is about two guys who have been caught doing many more things than what we allege in the lawsuits. I would also be wary of any talk about the merits of the Missouri lawsuits. Remember that a federal court judge ruled in our favor when he ordered the case to be transferred back to Missouri state court. In their filings in federal court, Stratus misrepresented things to the court and again questioned my honesty. The Unit Franchisees have strong claims. I would not subject myself to all these hassles unless I knew we would be successful.
    I would hope that the masters stand their ground and continue down the path of independence. I just wanted to reiterate my position that this is not a frivolous case. There are serious issues caused by the problems in this system. Please understaned that this case will not go away. If any of you have questions about these cases after the call, please feel free to contact me. I would be more than hapy to discuss these matters. Thanks.

  • May 25, 2012 at 5:11 am
    Permalink

    @ Fortman, our hope is they simply realize that this isn’t going away on anyone’s part; the Masters, nor the Owner-Operators. The only real question left is whether or not they go to jail. What these two individuals did was disgusting, the amounts of money is extraordinary when you combine it with the Masters licensing fee’s, the promissory notes, the royalties and the amount of money the owner-operators that were actually harmed……

    I know Pete at least has some feelings, can’t say the same about Dennis, I can assure you and the “viewers” that our next meeting, our final gameplan will be put into action and the chips will fall quickly and without hesitation.

    I honestly doubt that this meeting will actually happen now, the cowards don’t want to face the truth, probably haven’t seen it in so long, they don’t know what it looks like.

    @ David Farrell, Carmen Garcia, Marissa Lather, Marvin Ashton, Bob Stapleton don’t be surprised if Fortman and now the attorneys about to represent the group of Masters don’t name you in additional complaints….Guess what, YOU know alot and YOU will be forced to lie or tell the truth…Is it really worth going to jail?

  • May 25, 2012 at 7:24 am
    Permalink

    Pete Frese, it seems, has no regard for small business owners whatsoever. Here’s a computer guy’s account of how he got stiffed for 14 hours of rush work for Stratus and Frese. Not too flattering about Bob Stapleton either… wonder if his view of “Arabs” spills over to other minorities as well (like the ones they sell unit franchises to).

    James Triplett wrote: “After avoiding my phone calls for a month and a half and no one jumping to cut me a check, I decided to go into the office. Instead of Pete having the decency to talk to me himself, he passed the buck to someone else. A Mr. Robert (Bob) Stapleton. I sat patiently in Bob’s office listening to him rant and rave about how he hates Arabs and why. I could care less really. I just wanted my money. He was pissed about how “these Muslims” could come to the country and get tax breaks and how “nit-picky” they are. The real kick in the balls was this though. He was mouthing off about how “these Muslims” were adversely affecting our American businesses but he was in on withholding money owed to me, a hard working American combat veteran that took time away from my family to help them out. Come on Bob, what’s up with that? After he finished his email and finally shut up, he left me sitting there while he went to find Pete. It was about a half an hour or so. Bob finally came back in and told me that Pete wasn’t going to pay me for my work on their network….

    After a little more than 14 hours of troubleshooting, repairing and reinstalling the Management Console and all client installations,everything was stable again. In that 14 hours, there were many other smaller task that were completed as well. Much of which had to be done after hours. Other work like troubleshooting .pst files that reached their 2GB max and setting up a new network printer.

    When asked why Pete’s refusing to pay, this is the answer I received:

    “Pete doesn’t want to pay you because he feels that because you installed the software, you should support it for free.”

    “If you have any common sense at all, you will easily understand that this reasoning is a crock of shit. If you don’t see the issue in this, ask a professional that deals with this matter. In case you are wondering, yes, we’re going to court over this. I spent over 14 hours away from my family to work on their network and I’ve always taken good care of them…

    “I have added this man and this company to the shit list. I have a serious problem, as a consumer as well as a business professional, with someone that will promise to pay you for services, have you perform those services, and then refuse to pay.”

    http://oneofkarma.blogspot.com/2009/07/bad-business-practices-stratus-building.html

    What a swell group of professionals!

  • May 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm
    Permalink

    Anyone know if the conference call happened today and if so what was said?

  • May 26, 2012 at 12:53 am
    Permalink

    Guest2, maybe the silence means all is well in the land of Stratus once again. Reasoned Source, any insight?

  • May 26, 2012 at 5:28 am
    Permalink

    @Guest2 and Fortman: Yes, the meeting took place, No all is not well in the land of Stratus by far……I am not going to go minute by minute of this nearly 1.5 hours of a “train wreck”…..But I am going to give you some highlights and I am going to list all of the things not handled/discussed which should come as NO SURPRISE to anyone.

    On the call were the following:

    Matt/Rob Stratus Attorneys (even though I will describe them as Poodles, they seem to be men of overall honor)
    DJ/Pete (even though I will describe them as Liars, Cheats, Thieves equate them to Bernie Madoff and connect them directly to illegal activities, they are men)
    Approx. 12 Masters or Master Reps. were on the call as well.

    It started out with a brief introduction of everyone on the call. The Poodles started out by giving the group the overview of the “Fortman Case”….only one though, just the “class action request”. They gave a personal description of Fortman, his tactics, his mindset and oh by the way, he is in it for the money only! Funny, seems like at $500/hr each, the two of them are “in it for the money”. The reason that I call them Poodles is they know the law without question, they don’t know business, they don’t know P/R, they don’t know simple accounting, they don’t know how the real world outside the courthouses actually work….. A vision of Poodles jumped into my head……As they were describing Fortman, a vision of a “Junk Yard Dog” jumped into my head…….No offense, going to War, I don’t want a French Poodle leading my troops, I DO want a “Junk Yard Dog”!

    I think at the end of the call, Matt/Rob have a beter understanding of the angst that most Masters have, the disgust with DJ/Pete personally that most Masters have, the lack of quality people DJ/Pete actually are….If Matt/Rob were actually men of integrity/quality, they would drop these two like the plague that they are. But they will get paid, they will take their money, they will hold their nose and they will go home to their families at the end of the day.

    DJ/Pete were very quiet, they only spoke literally for minutes out of the 1.5 hours, they listened to people attacking them personally, their business ethics (lack thereof), their attitudes, their lies, their half-truths etc…

    DJ/Pete did have two “lap dogs” in the group, I have debated over night as to whether or not to call these two out by name/area…..So we will leave it as this, One is in Southern California, he recently got a great boost both in business and overall exposure as he reaped the rewards of a recently closed branch formally known as Goldeneye Investments…..
    The other is in the “city of brotherly love”, they were one of the first masters in the system, they freely admitted that they know/knew of all the problems with the Financials, Peforma’s, Lawsuits (active, pending and past) and their attitude is “so what”! I don’t know, when someone has that kind of casual attitude about the truth, legal matters/understanding, doesn’t seem to care that those fake documents were directly responsible for people all across this country investing in Stratus, some of those people were hurt both financially and mentally by these two, makes we wonder what kind of people they are!

    I will state for the record, there were several HERO’s at this meeting, one of them in particular attacked like a BULLDOG and didn’t let the attorney’s up off the ground, didn’t let DJ/Pete off the ground, didn’t let the “city of brotherly lovers” off the ground, didn’t let the “California Boy” off the ground and then left the meeting as She was tired of playing with idiots……

    Another HERO was someone that literally read from the “Federal Lawsuit aka Fortman Case” a line by which the “Poodles” had used for a reason of dismissal which plainly stated “YOU are suing the wrong person(s), YOU should be suing the individual Masters as THEY were the cause/reason for the action”……Now in business, with Partners like that, who needs anyone else!

    That same HERO asked the question and it was never answered by the “Poodles” nor by DJ/Pete, in regards to the false financials given to each of the Masters, “why didn’t anyone disclose the facts that the company actually started from 600k in business vs. the ZERO it actually started from”?

    Another HERO, actually questioned the attorneys and got no answer in regards to the multiple things that I layed out (pat on my back) in previous postings.

    a) What about the issues with the FDD? Why didn’t you disclose all of the open/closed branches…
    b) What about the issues that envolved the Pro2FS people, what about the Miami and Oregon cases, what about the Goldeneye Case and he stated one other, but I honestly couldn’t hear it….
    c) He point blank asked the attorneys if they were handling those cases? response was yes…Follow up was, “aren’t you smart enough to realize that where there is smoke, there is fire”!

    The final HERO really talked alot about issues with the brand, lack of support, differences in the Law between States (which is key) and even questioned the way they were going about selecting the announced “advisory committee”. Which we will get back to later.

    I think the only “good” that actually came from this meeting is simply that many Masters that I believe were “sitting on the fence” are now prepared to get off the fence, where they land should be answered by a meeting going on next week. We will see at that time.

    I am hopeful that both DJ/Pete finally realize the Harm that they have caused the following groups of people, however, the final statement in the meeting left me reason for concern that they have NO intention of turning over the Brand to the Masters, that they have NO intention of admitting that they actually did WRONG and took millions of dollars illegally and without basic business morals and that some of those people Lost their Lifes Savings both as Masters and as Owner-Operators. I personally don’t know how people like that sleep at night, but I for sure saw/heard at least three more people just like them on the conference call from the “city of Angels” and from the “city of brotherly love”.

    Final statement for those Masters still reading my posts, “if you lie with dogs, you will get fleas”…..Decision making time is near, you need to either “shit or get off the pot”!

    Let me know if any questions…….

  • May 26, 2012 at 5:36 am
    Permalink

    Sorry, forgot about the “big news” at the meeting……Pete/DJ are going to start an advisory committee of Masters that will work directly with Pete/DJ…Of course, Pete/DJ will handpick the Committee for at least the 1st Year! Well I bet I know at least two of the Masters that will be chosen!

    Of course this commmittee will have no power, no say in operational matters, will have no credibility, no teeth, no muscle and will be chartered by the stooges described earlier…….

    Other than that, it is a fine idea!

  • May 26, 2012 at 7:04 am
    Permalink

    Great information, Reasoned Source. Thank you.

    Is anyone working on getting a criminal investigation against Dennis Jarrett & friends going on this, or is the focus just on civil cases right now? It seems like the $600K and the convenient omissions from the FDD would certainly make a pretty powerful case for criminal fraud, would it not?

  • May 26, 2012 at 8:05 am
    Permalink

    @Guest2: As I had stated earlier, I would personally like nothing better than to have these two hauled away to jail, in handcuffs and on TV. Then I would like for “Irma” to personally strip search and cavity search them as they were put into their bright orange uniforms. However, I have been overruled at this time.

    Make no mistake, these two are theives in the worst way, these two have ruined countless lives, families, financial situations for people from the owner-operators to mulitple Masters.

    I would love for 1st A to contact some of his SEIU buddies and have them picket outside Dennis Jarrett’s McMansion in Chicago and Pete Freese’s in Southern Illinois.

    I would love for the Attorney General in Missouri to review not only Simpatico, Stratus Franchising, LLC but Pete Freese and Dennis Jarrett personally. Maybe an attorney based in Missouri could make that happen?

    These people need to feel just a little bit of pain, see a little bit of a change in lifestyle, see what it really means to “sweat” in both civil court and criminal court.

    Let me direct this next comment to the previously before mentioned “fence sitters” and more importantly the two previously called out “supporters of theives” You need to think long and hard about supporting people that have ruined dozens if not hundreds of families lives all across this country…….

    Think about what these thieves did to the previously “known” masters in the following areas, why don’t you ask them whose fault it really is that these people failed, was it due to them being poor business people only? No, it was due to the system, the lack of support, the lack of pre-qualification (f-in Bastards only wanted these peoples cash and they didn’t care whether or not they had enough backup monies to float, enough quality people around them, support in the field from the Corporate office etc…….)

    New Mexico
    Virginia (State had to step in, so the poor bastard could get his/some of his money back as he couldn’t even get registered)
    Las Vegas
    Minneapolis
    Kansas City and Omaha (Poor Bastard was literally on his last leg, before going under and a quick shift to another Master)
    Central New Jersey (Ran out of operating funds and another Master took over his operations)
    Los Angeles aka Goldeneye aka Orange County (There is little to no doubt in my mind that Carmen Garcia, Marvin Ashton and Dennis Jarrett directly put the final nails in this poor bastards coffin themselves) (They then rewarded “California Boy” with the trimmings and now he is truly Fat, Dumb and Happy!)

    Finally, let us count the dozens, possibly 100 owner-operators that have had their dreams, families, finances ruined by them. They are the one’s responsible for what has happened, the system that they championed, the model that they sold (using false financials, performas, lies, half-truths) and the hole that they put all of these Masters in by lack of support, taking too huge of a % of royalties, additional promissory notes in some cases and other financial mis-dealings are directly related to the above listed Masters Issues…..

    Now, there are rumors surrounding one of the larger Masters in Texas…Let’s see how much longer he is able to “hold on”………

    These men are disgusting, Carmen Garcia, David Farrell, Bob Stapleton, Marvin Ashton and Marissa Lather are disgusting men and women….Only thing different is some are going to jail, others will hopefully get smart and get out!

  • May 26, 2012 at 10:47 am
    Permalink

    Reasoned Source: Thanks for the update. I take being referred to as a “junkyard dog” as a compliment. Once again, the Stratus attorneys are giving false information to you. Back in March, I requested a meeting to discuss scheduling issues and to see if we could work toward resolutiion. They flatly refused. As proof follow the link below to a brief email exhange I had with their attorney. After looking at that ask yourselves whom is in it for money. Their attorneys are charging by the hour and refuse to even meet. I am quickly losing whatever respect I had for them left after their ridiculous filing in federal court.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/it2md79h9hlre95/Email%20Exchange%20Between%20Fortman%20and%20Jacober.docx

  • May 26, 2012 at 11:05 am
    Permalink

    As far as the City of Brotherly Love, he has his own issues to worry about. I’ll just leave it at that for now.

  • May 26, 2012 at 11:59 am
    Permalink

    Interesting. So it seems “Junkyard Dog” Fortman tried to get together back in March to discuss settlement but poodles Matt/Rob (billing collectively at $1000 an hour) decided that it would be “significantly premature” even to talk because they still had upcoming boat payments, vacations, and country club dues? And then they accuse Fortman of being in it for the money! I love these guys!

    So 2 months later the poodles advise their client that the wise move would be to rack up lots of billable hours planning, holding, then debriefing an hour and a half conference call with the guys they previously told Junkyard Jon he should be suing? The poodles rack up lots and lots of billable hours while their clients sit and quietly get the sh*t kicked out of them (and get to pay top dollar for the privilege)?

    Wow. I almost feel sorry for Jarrett & Frese. Sounds like even their own advisors want to extract the maximum pounds of flesh before the whole thing comes tumbling down. Otherwise why wouldn’t they tell their clients to admit they did wrong and try to make things right as best they can?

  • May 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm
    Permalink

    “I would personally like nothing better than to have these two hauled away to jail, in handcuffs and on TV… However, I have been overruled at this time.”

    Reasoned Source: why did you get overruled? They think a criminal case would interfere with civil cases? Was this recommended by an attorney? Wouldn’t DJ and Frese be more likely to turn over the brand to the masters if it looked like they were going to be relocating to Club Fed anyway?

    I don’t know how criminal cases impact simultaneous civil cases, or whether civil attorneys see criminal proceedings as help or hindrance in cases like this. Would be interested in hearing how this works.

  • May 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm
    Permalink

    @ Fortman, it was very much meant as a compliment….

    @ Guest 2, majority rules, right now most Masters simply want to get away from DJ/Pete as quickly as possible. Criminal Matters actually take more time than civil. But things change on a regular basis.

  • May 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm
    Permalink

    I was asked yesterday and again today (at Church of all places!), Why was I so Mad at these people? (DJ and Pete). Honestly, I told them the business side as to why I was so mad…….

    1.) False Financials given prior to investment made
    2) False Performa’s given prior to investment made
    3) False Statements of support, promises of additional services/franchises etc…

    They both came back to me and said No, you don’t understand, Why are YOU so Mad/passionate about what these people did……..I had to think for a moment, actually for hours until now….IT’S THE STORIES? I am so MAD because of the stories that I’ve been told/listened to……

    On a call the other day, I listened to Masters from all across this country tell us THEIR stories.. How they first met DJ/Pete, How they listened at the presentation, what questions they asked/answered, what homework they did, who they talked too that was already part of the organization, what the financials said, what the performa said, DJ/Pete’s prior experience was and then at the end, WHO they got as Validators already in the Stratus Family…..

    Then I remembered MY Story….I reviewed MY Story and realized that at a couple of times in MY Story, if things had gone just a little different than they did, I would have/could have/should have ended up like some of the following:

    New Mexico
    Central New Jersey
    Nebraska/Kansas City (first one’s)
    Las Vegas
    and ???????

    Then I started reviewing MY Story and thinking about Who was with me at those “make or break moments” . MY Management Staff, MY Owner-Operators that I took their investment monies, THEIR employee’s and THEIR stories!!!!! I pictured what could have/would have/should have happened to them……..

    I’m not a panty waist by any sense of the word, I know Business, I know THIS Business, I know that sometimes even when EVERYTHING goes right, you still may have to close your doors…In all honesty, only by some lucky timing, by the Grace of God, creative financing, I grew vs closing my business. But there is a great difference of Losing a Business and being SET UP FOR FAILURE! That is what DJ/Pete did, they Lied about the profitability of the company, they Lied about the Sales Projections, they Lied about the Telemarketing Numbers, they Lied about the Business Model, they Lied about Affiliated Services, they Lied about the support mechanisms and many other things…..

    THEY didn’t care about anyone else’s STORY but their own!

    I added up just briefly what those businesses lost, the lives affected, the owner-operators that were probably lost and their monies….We are talking about 2 million dollars easily! At least 100 total owner-operators and their investments were affected, at least 10 Management Staff and their families were affected…All because, they were setup to FAIL!

    I can assure you of this, I have been restrained up until now, I don’t want to see innocent people/owner-operators/masters get hurt anymore than what is necessary…..What kind of men are you Dennis Jarrett and Pete Fresse? When are you finally going to do Right by/to at least some of the People? How is this all going to have to end? This are questions that MUST be answered sooner vs. later……

    You need to do the following:

    a) Turn over the Brand Rights to the approx. 17 Masters that are currently lined up against you.
    b) Give those 17 Masters and anyone else that wants away from you two a full release from Promissory Notes, Future/Past Royalty Payments, Non-Compete etc…Without One More Penny being paid to You!
    c) Negotiate Openly and Reasonably with your pending lawsuits wihich includes the Masters in Oregon, Owner-Operators represented by Fortman, Owner-Operators represented by the California Firm handling the Goldeneye Owner-Operators and with the former Goldeneye Master himself.
    d) Debrand your St. Louis Missouri Office which you own and any/other Master that wants to stay with you.
    e) IF you are to continue utilizing the owner-operator Model, you must agree to a Franchisee Bill of Rights and legal changes to your FDD that would make it easier for dispute resolution between the Masters and affected owner-operator.

    In return, you get the following:

    1) Agreement not to pursue any further litigation
    2) Agreement from those above Masters to not ask for any monies back
    3) Agreement not to pursue any criminal charges in their respective states
    4) Agreement not to actively partcipate in any media, blog, articles that would be seen as harmful to you/your new company.

    You have until the end of business on Tuesday to agree to the above. Our meeting takes place on Wednesday. I am sure that your Poodles and/our your “California Boy” or “City of Brotherly Lovers” are monitoring this site if you aren’t.

  • May 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm
    Permalink

    To r sourse, I don’t have any buddies in the SUIE so I can’t call them to picket. I’m just a regular guy who got lied to and defrauded into buying into jan-pro. Another ponzi Scheme that is just like stratus, janiking and coverall.

    You posted the following. Could you please tell me who these people are? What there positions are and what they did?

    ” Los Angeles aka Goldeneye aka Orange County (There is little to no doubt in my mind that Carmen Garcia, Marvin Ashton and Dennis Jarrett directly put the final nails in this poor bastards coffin themselves) (They then rewarded “California Boy” with the trimmings and now he is truly Fat, Dumb and Happy!) “

  • May 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm
    Permalink

    Reasoned Source, I too have heard story after story from the unit franchisees. Hundreds of them. Many have lost a few thousand dollars which is a small sum compared to the masters, but stilll a fortune to these hard-working people. More importantly, they lost their ability to trust people. My biggest hurdle has been trying to convince them that I want to help them and that I’m on their side. We finally had to hire a full-time translator who understood their culture. Since then the flodgates have opened. I applaud your honesty and your character. I can’t understand how any of the masters can stand behind those guys. I hope they see the light before they lose their entire investments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *