A complaint has been filed against a Louisiana company that incorporated after Hurricane Katrina, then landed a federal contract to sell more than $7.6 million worth of travel trailers while lacking a state license, according to the Times-Picayune, New Orleans.
The newspaper reported that state records show Disaster Recovery and Housing-LA LLC incorporated on Sept. 22, nearly a month after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.
The complaint against Disaster Recovery was lodged this month with the Louisiana Recreational and Used Motor Vehicle Commission by Jim Gauthier of Gauthiers RV Center in Lafayette.
The absence of a Louisiana license to sell new trailers did not prevent Disaster Recovery from landing a contract Oct. 17 to sell 394 trailers to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a deal valued at $7.683 million, a FEMA contract list shows.
The newspaper reported that a state commission staffer in Baton Rouge said last week that, on the date listed by FEMA, Disaster Recovery did not possess a valid dealer’s license to sell new recreational vehicles in Louisiana, as required by state law.
Several dealers said they did not understand how Disaster Recovery, which did not exist before Katrina and is thus an unknown in the relatively close-knit RV market, could land such big dollars.
“There’s got to be more involved in this other than them taking sales away from licensed, in-state dealers,” said Hoyt Adcock, part owner of Blanchard Trailer Sales in Baton Rouge. “All of us are very upset that all the contracts go to these outside companies and when we do get something it’s an itty-bitty contract.”
David Gaffney of Innovative RV in Baton Rouge echoed Adcock’s view.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “We’re talking about people who have never done this kind of business.”
FEMA, which lists Disaster Recovery as an “LA-VENDOR,” did not respond to questions submitted in writing last week about the company and the contract.
Gauthier said he suspected Disaster Recovery was not, in truth, a Louisiana outfit and that it had “zero assets in the state.” But a recent visit to the firm’s listed headquarters in Donaldsonville showed some activity.
A sign posted on the side of the highway identifies the lot as the home of Crescent Luxury RV Resort, another company incorporated after Katrina. Like Disaster Recovery, Crescent Luxury lists Eric Campbell of Jacksonville, Fla., as a manager.
Campbell could not be reached for comment and several phone calls to his Florida headquarters reached a message saying the phone’s mail box was full.