HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A truck repair shop in Huntsville is now locked up and the owner appears to be hiding out. Frustrated customers say they paid for the work, which hasn't been done. WHNT News 19 is Taking Action to find out what's happening now with Rocket City Truck Repair.
On the first day of spring, Cliff Hemstock's team was busy hauling and grinding timber. "All through the summer, we do over $100,000 a month in revenue in tree work."
Hemstock has the tools for every job. But while his team is on Monte Sano, two of his trucks are parked and not running miles away. "I'm still making payments to my lender on a truck that I'm not using."
With an insurance check after an accident, Hemstock took his truck to Rocket City Truck Repair over a year ago. "He ordered the parts, they came in. He cashed the check from Geico and the work just wasn't getting done."
A year later, there's not a mechanic in sight but there is a sheriff's office note in the window.
Hemstock says the first truck and another brought in for maintenance haven't been touched. "I can't take money from a customer and not show up and do the work," he said.
We found that the owner of the business, Alan Hays, had a court day for January 9, that he failed to appear at. He now has a tax lien, a Huntsville Utilities bill for a little over $1,800, and a warrant with the Madison County Sheriff's Office.
The State Department of Revenue has the place locked up, so Hemstock and the other customers can't get their trucks out until this goes back to court.
"It's really a shame this happened because the owner of that business is really talented," said Hemstock. "He's a great repair tech and he was a friend of mine. I hope to see him bounce back and do the right thing and take control of the situation."
The case will head to Madison County Circuit Court. If a judge decides to give the property owner the keys back, Hemstock will likely be able to get his trucks back next week.
If the tax lien isn't paid, any property owned by Hays could be sold at a tax auction.