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RiverGrain owner faced numerous civil cases, related criminal complaint

WEST MICHIGAN — According to court records, Ian Kelley has a number of civil cases against him in multiple counties. He also pleaded guilty to a criminal offense of operating as an unlicensed residential builder for a larger project.

He is the co-owner of RiverGrain. Kelly and co-owner Ashley Shipaila (aka Shippy) were the subjects of a FOX 17 Problem Solvers investigation on Monday. RiverGrain is a handmade furniture business.

Courtney Cushway, who saw the story, told FOX 17 to add her to the list of victims after she paid $1,100 in November 2017.

Cushway said, "I'm obviously kind of distraught over it. I'm super sad that other people have to deal with this problem too. It's not right."

"We paid in full. He actually suggested that we pay in full," she said.

Cushway said paying in full was "terrible. I would never do that again. We don't trust people anymore."

The mother of two said Kelley betrayed her trust by dragging his feet on the project, stringing her along with empty promises, and displaying a temper when asked for either the item she paid for or for a refund. Many months later, Cushway said Kelley finally gave her some wet doors wrapped in plastic.

"They're ruined," Cushway said.

She said a refund for the $650 worth of undelivered doors is still unpaid. Tuesday, the Problem Solvers stopped by Kelley's shop in Freeport to try and speak with him in person, but there was no response.

Court records show Kelley has several small claims judgments against him. In Kent County, a Forest Hills couple won a $6,200 judgment. In relation to that case, Kelley was also charged criminally for operating as an unlicensed residential builder. He pleaded guilty and repaid the couple about $3,000.

While Cushway said she's owed only a fraction of that amount, she wants every dime.

"My message to him is he's a thief," she said. "We want our money back. We both work very hard for what we do.  And $650 may not be a lot to some people, but it's a lot to us."

On Monday, Kelley told the Problem Solvers that he would repay people and that they can reach him directly. But again, everyone we're hearing from says it has been months of either silence or empty promises.

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13 comments

  • MICHAEL J BRYAN

    I had the same issues with him!! I was lucky enough to surprise him at his shop and demand my money back. The stories are all the same, dragging his feet and excuse after excuse as to why the job wasn’t done. I hope everyone is able to recoup their money!! (Although you cant get blood from a rock)…. Good luck everyone involved…

  • steve

    When dealing with nickel-dime players like this jerk never, ever make an agreement riskier than half down and half upon satisfactory completion of the project and instead of references, ask to actually see projects he’s done in the past. And, just my own personal rule: Never do business with anyone that would wear a baseball cap backwards. I want to deal with adults, not kids.

  • Blake

    Love how the news always shows one sided stories. Sad that people will goto extends to just to destroy a business that wanted to strive. Wheres the satisfied costumers results hmmm fox news won’t show you that. Sorry for that people that see the one sided part of this story.

  • Blake

    Also let’s point out that they went to his shop to find him and where not successful (could of sechuled a time to see him), so let’s just add a clip of some random dude knocking on a door and no answer lmao fox news you slimy dogs priceless. Believe what you want but it is not easy owning a business.

  • Ann

    How bout you give Ian Kelley a interview so he can state some facts and give him the opportunity to say his side? Of course you won’t cause you won’t get the attention your looking for.. you call yourself a problem solvers?? How does anything get solved if it’s one sided??? Everyone knows there are two sides to every story.. How about the the ppl that did get there product and have been very satisfied and happy.. everyone knows starting your own business has lots of obstacles and it’s take hard work and long hours and we all know you don’t see a profit for years .. Give the guy a chance to state his side! Sad to see this guy going through all this just because he has a passion and a dream that most want but don’t even try to make it happen ..

    • John

      Unfortunately his dream results in nightmares for some of his customers. Where do you draw the line? Are you saying it’s ok to take people’s money and not deliver as long as you only ripoff a few?

      • Ann

        No I’m saying for people to be able to go on live tv and state there side of a story one would think that other has a side too! I personally has no issues with RiverGrain they were very prompt on getting my product and they were very kind and considerate to what I needed and wanted .. you can’t go just anywhere and get costume work and it takes time .. If people can’t find satisfaction in good hard work then I guess maybe they shouldn’t be looking for custom work! I’m saying I personally find it funny how people are so quit to jump a person when they have no idea what it’s like to start a business and to make it succeed! He clearly stated he was going to make sure everyone is refunded .. If everyone gets a refund where do you think that leaves him? out money and time that he has invested in product for materials so one would know it will take time for a refund ..Instead of breaking people down what we need is people to build one another up!

        • John

          It’s nice that you had a good experience. Problem is others did not. Great quality products that are paid for but not delivered are worthless. Good business requires more than building a good product, it also requires honesty, integrity and a commitment to customer service. As a small business owner myself I feel every dishonest owner like this one hurts all small business owners and craftsmen.

          • Ann

            Listen your missing the point.. there are two sides to every story and it’s as simple as he was not given the opportunity to give his side like we know the news will do.. so myself who ran a small business for 20 sum years know all about integrity and honesty and that there is a lot more then just making product .. and I also know that there are people out there that will take and change a certain situation so they look like the ones that were conned or taken advantage of.. they left a lot out of this whole story is how I see it.. so they need to get the facts from both side before they go blasting someone’s life all over the news!

  • John

    True he may have some satisfied customers, but who would take a chance? You might be a satisfied customer or you may be one who gets ripped off. He’s not likely to be successful doing business that way!

  • Jim Tepin

    I was involved with this story. Ian has refunded my money. I believe he is making a good faith effort to get things on track, and I hope he can continue to do right by people and continue his business.

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