Interview with Anthoni Igra – Part Two

Life: The Battlefield
Life: The Battlefield
Interview with Anthoni Igra - Part Two

Anthony Igra Bio:

It’s a Claimathon” – Why the ‘phones are Ringing Hot for this Small Business Owner.

Since the coronavirus hit, Anthony Igra, a small business owner has never been busier.

“The number of daily enquires I am receiving has almost doubled compared to how it was before the pandemic,” he says.

Anthony is the owner of Contractors Debt Recovery, a company that specialises in helping commercial building contractors recover money they are owed, mostly by developers and building construction companies.

“Delayed payments or non-payments are rife within the building industry, often because of ‘leakage’ whereby money for project A gets paid to project B so that the money in the contractual chain is literally bled out. It’s then frequently used by head contractors to pay other debts and unfortunately sometimes for their own personal use. I have seen cases where it has been spent on a new speed boat or overseas holiday, leaving no money to pay for the work done by the parties down the contractual chain.”

With the financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many contractors are keen to make sure they recover unpaid money to help them stay afloat.

“They are acting sooner not later, which is a good thing considering some of these debts go back over 8 months” Anthony said.

A specialist in his field, Anthony uses the little known ‘Security of Payment Act’ whereby the payment dispute is rapidly decided by an adjudicator. The whole process from claim to decision takes around six weeks.

“It is a complicated process that requires a detailed eye but it costs much less money and time than going through a lawyer and subsequent litigation, which is why many tradesmen prefer it,” says Anthony.

In just one week in April, Anthony recovered $400k and $200k of unpaid money owed to two contractors – money which went straight back into their bank accounts.

“One guy had just $200 left and so that was particularly satisfying. It means he can pay his mortgage, feed his family and ultimately carry on with his business.”

Anthony started out his business by default.

“I had taken a year off work after being made redundant and then started consulting to an electrical company. I couldn’t help but notice that payment was frequently a big problem and I had heard about the Security of Payment Act. When I looked at it, it was simply a process of running written arguments with supporting evidence.

I have a BA in English and so writing and putting together a constructive argument with evidence came quite naturally to me. The Act was more about this than being bound up with legal jargon and so I decided to give it a go.

I started Contractors Debt Recovery in 2006 in the sunroom of my home with one desk and no money. I had a new baby, a mortgage and an unemployed wife. I was down to the last $800 in my bank account and all eyes were on me. I had to make it work. Then, within the first eight months of starting, I pulled off a huge victory on a $3.3 million claim. I recovered every cent of it and there was so much relief – we celebrated by paying the bills!”

Fast forward to today and Contractors Debt Recovery handles around 25 per cent of all claims in NSW (the biggest user of the Act) and around 15 per cent nationally. Anthony and his team recover approximately $6 million per year of unpaid work, totalling over $65 million to date.

“It is extremely rewarding to help recover this money for hardworking contractors, many of whom are small business owners like me or sole traders who have spent their hard-earned cash on supplies and wages and are out-of-pocket to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

Many of these have tried to recover the money themselves but have just given up. Without the Security of Payment Act, many would lose their homes and businesses. Having worked so hard myself to build my own business up, I know how it feels to have everything on the line and it is very satisfying to win the arguments and see that money roll in.”

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