Former Customer Calls Tornado Masters Head “Con Man”

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The head of a local tornado shelter company that’s been temporarily shelved by the state of Alabama is now facing new questions and allegations that stem from one of his prior business ventures.

Records viewed and obtained by WHNT News 19 show that Tornado Masters of Alabama president Les Holt previously ran a home improvement business called “Rocket City Woodworks”. The business folded in 2005, but not without leaving a dubious reputation among some of its customers.

Huntsville resident Eric Twitchell blasted Holt in an interview with WHNT News 19 on Wednesday, accusing the embattled businessman of being a “classic con man.” Twitchell said Holt and his work crew nearly destroyed his house in 2005 in what was supposed to be a home improvement project. Records show that a Madison County judge later awarded Twitchell a $150,000 civil judgment, but he said he has yet to receive a penny from it.

Twitchell said Rocket City Woodworks caused nearly $100,000 worth of damage in his south Huntsville home, scarring siding, floors, windows and walls. Twitchell said he sued Rocket City Woodworks after he fired Holt from the project, only learning later that Holt did not have the general contractors license he claimed to.

“He is the consummate con artist,” said Twitchell, when asked about Holt. “He shortchanged the windows and tried to jam them up with newspapers and little pieces of wood before we got home…The judge gave us the judgment, and that’s the end of it. We’ve been hunting and fishing ever since, trying to get that judgment given to us.”

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange ordered a freeze on all of Tornado Masters of Alabama’s business activities earlier this week. Authorities said many of the shelters manufactured by Tornado Masters had life-threatening defects, with false advertizing also being alleged. Les Holt has declined to comment on the investigation and his prior business and legal troubles.