'Gobsmacked': Anger after $5M burglary

‘Gobsmacked’: Anger after $5M burglary

A trader who had the “dismal” experience of losing nearly $35,000 when a Melbourne construction company collapsed over a staggering $5.5 million was “absolutely stunned” to find out the company used her old Instagram account to start a new business.

The company, known as Archiblox, used its former Instagram account, which currently has 145,000 followers, to launch the new company called Arkular.

Rhys Ewart has been running his furniture and joinery business called Dreamcraft Interiors for seven years.

He started working with the company in early 2018 but said things were going really bad in August 2019.

“They had this gut feeling that something wasn’t right and they went through four or five site supervisors, they couldn’t get materials and they couldn’t get modules to the site because they owed money to the crane and the haulage to the site. It was a farce,” he claimed in an interview with news.com.au.

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Eventually, even though he was owed tens of thousands of dollars, Mr. Ewart knew he had to get out.

“The ship was sinking and I knew the ship was sinking and I couldn’t get out and they owed me about $70,000 and I had to keep finding jobs there with a promise that I would get my money,” he said.

“I ended up saying nothing more after they sent me orders for three more houses… I pulled the pin.”

The 41-year-old said he was forced to bring in a debt collector to try and recover the money he was owed.

“They paid me about $1,500 a month,” he said. “It came through and it was basically drip fed.”

The collapse of the company

Archiblox went into voluntary liquidation in February 2020 and the liquidator’s report filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission showed that 17 projects were affected at various stages of completion and the company had no cash in the bank.

The report revealed that the company had been trading at a “significant shortage” since June 30, 2018, amassing approximately $2.8 million in trading losses from July 2017 to February 2020.

Despite being owed money, Mr Ewart said it was still “overwhelming” when the company collapsed with the bankruptcy trustee’s report stating he was owed nearly $35,000 of the $5.5 million in debt.

“There’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. Besides me, there were a few other professions that simply had to bear the debt. I can carry work because it was all my own work, but when it comes to physical products and materials, it costs a bomb,” he said.

“Out of that money there was about $20,000 worth of stone countertops that I got from other subcontractors under me, and I carried that debt.”

The father-of-two added that losing that amount of money was a “massive” sum for a trader like him who runs a small business.

“It’s a massive thing to have to keep working to clear it and there’s nothing you can do,” he added.

“It’s been grim for a while, but you scrape your way out of there. If you are owed money for months, you take jobs elsewhere to make money.”


The Melbourne-based tradition was “stunned” to see that Archiblox’s previous owner, Arkular, had started a new company.

“I knew something like this would happen. If the deal ended, why wouldn’t you shut down the Instagram account? But if you have 146,000 followers, you have a large following, if you want to call it that. It just restarted and the message filtered through,” he said.

“I can’t imagine how they could go broke with $5.5 million and start a business again in the same industry. You have to be held accountable somewhere.”

An Aug. 28 Instagram post announced to its then 146,000 followers that “Arkular is the new home for Archiblox.”

Although Arkular only launched in August of this year, a number of projects are featured by the Archiblox website on their website, and the posts are as of September 28, 2018.

Bill McCorkell is an architect who was a director at Archiblox when it collapsed, but he declined to answer news.com.au’s questions about the story.

He was previously speaking about the company’s demise, as news.com.au revealed a couple who claimed their life was shattered in the collapse and left $600,000 out of their pockets were horrified when the new Company started on Instagram.

payment plans

Mr McCorkell previously said the vast majority of that debt was owed to his family and himself, and he was “working with all external creditors to implement payment plans where possible”.

However, Mr Ewart said he was never approached about a payment plan and the money was never repaid – his accountant wrote off the debt.

Mr McCorkell also said the new company, Arkular, was formed to focus solely on the design, sale and marketing of sustainable homes, “which is my passion and my area of ​​expertise”.

“Arkular does not engage in construction work that is outsourced to a number of reputable, specialist construction companies,” he added.

He said his family kept the Archiblox intellectual property and there was a reason the old Instagram handle was used.

“The original handle had a large number of followers that we felt would still be interested in our design work, so it made sense to continue using it,” he said.

“The designs we have made at Archiblox were all our own work – I am the chief architect at Arkular as I was at Archiblox – and we are proud to present them through Arkular.”

problems in the construction industry

Mr Ewart added a worrying problem in the construction industry in general is that “every builder” uses subcontractors to “finance their projects”, but he has learned his lesson.

He has become “tired” – he applies a series of checks and balances before joining a company.

In most cases, his bills would need to be paid within two weeks, he added, rather than the work being “snowballing” and having to wait for payment.

“Once my work gets to a certain stage I won’t go on site unless I get paid, that’s just how I have to do it to limit my liability,” he said.

The troubled construction industry has seen a spate of corporate failures this year, with homebuilder Tozer Construction Group most recently going into liquidation along with dozens of other companies.


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