Makers Line is ‘no longer doing business,’ an attorney for the troubled contractor confirms

The latest lawsuit against the Salt Lake City company indicates its financial problems have crossed state lines.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Makers Line branding was still visible at Atre Sugar House, a two-building development in Salt Lake City, on November 10, but an attorney for the company had confirmed the company was "no longer doing business" three days prior, according to court documents.

Influential contractor Makers Line “is no longer doing business,” its attorney said in a court filing, confirming what officials at the beleaguered company have denied publicly or stayed silent about for more than a month as lawsuits against it piled up.

The confirmation came in a three-sentence email, dated Nov. 7, written by Makers Line’s former in-house attorney, Matthew Muir.

The email was included as evidence in a request from Mechanical Design & Services LLC for the court to order Makers Line pay the $80,161 it allegedly owes for HVAC labor performed at Hart City Center in Clearfield.

In bolded letters, Mechanical Design & Services states: “Defendant [Makers Line] is Insolvent and Is Closing Its Business.” The company wants the assets of Makers Line’s assets to be safeguarded, to cover a possible future judgment against it.

Muir wrote in the Nov. 7 email: “Makers Line is no longer doing business.” He also confirmed the company had not filed for bankruptcy.

As of Wednesday morning, no filing has been made by Makers Line or owners Jason and Ellen Winkler in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Utah. Muir did not respond to a request Tuesday to comment on this story.

Makers Line, responsible for dozens of projects along the Wasatch Front, and several affiliated companies stopped paying employees, laid people off, and went offline in October. Jason Winkler told the website Building Salt Lake his company was “not quite” shutting down; since then, executives have stayed silent.

Mechanical Design & Service LLC is one of nearly 20 subcontractors suing Makers Line, the Winklers or other associated companies for nonpayment — the most recent filed last week.

The latest lawsuit, filed Nov. 29 in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City, claims Jason Winkler and the company’s president, Tim Foster, tried to “expand” the business in Arizona — and found a business partner, David Fina, to help kickstart Makers Line AZ.

The three split membership interest in the new Arizona company, according to Fina, a general contractor in Scottdale.

Fina and Makers Line AZ sued Jason Winkler and Foster, claiming the Utah executives used money from the new Arizona business — money that didn’t belong to them, according to the lawsuit — to pay for expenses in Utah.

Meanwhile, according to the lawsuit, the Arizona company didn’t pay subcontractors and “on at least two occasions” paid its employees late — accusations similar to what Makers Line has faced in Utah.

“Defendants have no justification for taking and keeping that money in contravention of the Agreement and it appears to be just another step by Mr. Winkler to shuffle money around his ever-collapsing business operations,” the complaint reads.

In the suit, Fina claims Winkler and Foster owe “at least” $489,000 to him and Makers Line AZ. A response has not yet been filed, and an attorney for Winkler did not respond to a request for comment.

Shannon Sollitt is a Report for America corps member covering business accountability and sustainability for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.