A local union protested during the demolition.
If you entered Elgin Community College through the McLean Boulevard entrance during the month of April, you likely saw workers demolishing the former Colonial Cafe restaurant, a property purchased by ECC in 2020. And you may have- Also be seen a large inflatable rat nearby with a sign that read “Shame on ECC”. The reason? Protesters claim ECC hired a demolition company with a troubled past.
At an ECC Board meeting on September 14, 2021, Fowler Enterprises LLC won the tender for the demolition of the closed Colonial Cafe at 600 S. McLean Blvd.
“ECC, with the assistance of its architect, JP Architects, performed its due diligence before awarding a contract to Fowler Enterprises LLC which had a certificate of good standing from Illinois, a good financial rating from Dun & Bradstreet and clean references have been checked,” Respicio F. Vazquez, general counsel for Elgin Community College, said in an April 22 emailed statement to the Observer.
But that’s not all, according to the protesters. The claim is that Fowler Enterprises LLC has a connection with Fowler Services and other companies, according to Roberto Perez, sales representative for Labor Local 225. Perez addressed those concerns to the ECC board at the Sept. 14 meeting, according to the board meeting. minutes.
“[ECC] hired Fowler Enterprises; Fowler Services was the old name. They changed it several times,” Perez said. “That’s what we tried to explain to the directors on the board to no avail. But it’s the same guy, the same owners.
Vazquez explained during the board meeting that Fowler Enterprises LLC is a separate company and there was no documentation that Fowler Enterprises LLC failed to follow any laws or pay a salary in force, according to the minutes of the meeting of the board of directors. (The directors approved Fowler Enterprises LLC by a vote of 6 to 1.)
Jake Fowler is the current owner of Fowler Enterprises LLC, according to the Secretary of State Archives. Jake Fowler’s father, Brian Fowler, is linked to a series of previous ventures.
Fowler Services, a company owned by Brian Fowler, was fined by the Illinois Department of Labor for violating Illinois’ prevailing wage law, owing $9,146.32 in back wages and was fined $1,829.26, according to the Illinois Department of Labor.
Brian Fowler also owned another company called A-1 Fowler, Inc. According to documents obtained from the Illinois Department of Labor through a Freedom of Information Act request, A-1 Fowler Inc. in May. On December 14, 2015, the Illinois Department of Labor found that he violated Illinois’ prevailing wage law. The company had to pay the department $2,479.80 in back wages and a penalty of $495.96, according to state records. The company was voluntarily dissolved in 2019, according to Illinois Secretary of State records.
According to records obtained from the Illinois Department of Labor through a Freedom of Information Act request, Fowler Enterprises LLC filed a lawsuit against them in 2021, but in June. On December 21, 2021, the Department of Labor did not discover enough evidence to support a finding that Illinois’ prevailing wage law was violated.
Fowler Enterprises LLC. is a legally separate company that is currently in good standing with the Secretary of State.
The Observer asked ECC for additional comment, but through a spokesperson, the school did not comment further.