Monday, August 5, 2013

Whatever Happened to Lancaster Arms?

It’s been a long time since I updated this blog, but I know some of you out there are wondering whatever happened to Lancaster Arms and Chet Durda.  Well, as many of you know, Chet Durda settled his case with the Arizona Attorney General’s office.  According to the Arizona AG, Durda was mostly uncooperative during the entire matter, stalling at every possible opportunity.  The court even had to issue a “Motion to Compel” because Durda would not provide the requested documentation concerning how he was running his business.
   
Nonetheless, he eventually agreed to settle with the AG, and to pay the State of Arizona $70,000.  Most of that ($67,000) was for restitution to his victims, and $3,000 was to cover court costs.

Apparently not knowing that Chet Durda’s word is meaningless, the Arizona AG agreed to let him make monthly payments until the debt was paid in full.  But according to the Arizona AG, Chet Durda never paid even a single penny of the judgment.  He immediately defaulted on the judgment, and that judgment was recently sent to a collections agency for further action.  Someone speculated in a previous comment thread that Chet Durda “got away with it”, but that is not the case.  The judgment against him was personal (i.e., the judgment was against him as a person, not against the business), so Durda still legally owes the entire $70,000.  And if anything, the collection agency is likely to be far more aggressive at collecting the money than the AG’s office ever was because…well…because that’s what collection agencies do. 

Of course, this judgment from Arizona is just one of Chet Durda’s many, many debts.  A cursory look at court and public record filings in Arizona reveals that as of 2012 he owed about $75,000 to a property management company called Estrella Associates, and $31,000 to the IRS in unpaid taxes.  As of 2011 he owed $8,000 to a Steven Delbarto.  As of 2010 he owed $6,000 to CMRE Financial Services.  Also as of last year (although I don’t know if the case is still active), Chet Durda was being sued in Federal Court by a former business partner, who alleged that Durda was guilty of “breach of contract, conversion and fraud”.  Durda borrowed $200,000 from Allen Myers and, predictably, never paid him back.  Hmm…I think I see a pattern here.  

And I could go on and on, because if you look at the Maricopa County Recorder’s office records, you’ll see that over the last two decades ole’ Chester Durda has made something of a hobby out of borrowing money that he never intends to repay.  Although I suspect that few of you reading this are even remotely surprised.   

As for Lancaster Arms, Chet Durda supposedly sold the business to a new owner.  That new owner unwisely decided to keep the Lancaster name (which is worthless given what Durda did to it), calling the new entity “Lancaster Armory”.  I don’t know whether this was a straight and legitimate sale of the business, or whether it was a “paper sale” only to get Durda’s name out of it.  I don’t wish to speculate too much in this regard, as if it was a legitimate sale than the new owner deserves a chance to rebuild the business.  

I do find it curious however that the new owner would choose to keep the name in place, since anyone who did even 10 minutes worth of research on the Internet would – I think – come to the conclusion that they’d want to change the “Lancaster” name as fast as humanly possible.  In the firearms world, and with AK-style rifles in particular, the “Lancaster” name has come to be associated with a fraudulent operation run by an incompetent hustler.  I can understand buying a business name for the associated brand equity, but in this case, I would say the “Lancaster” name actually has negative brand equity.  I suppose it’s theoretically possible to turn that around, but I’m not certain why a new business owner would want to start out in that hole to begin with.  Then again, nothing associated with Lancaster Arms ever made any sense, so…C’est la vie.

I will update this blog as necessary, and/or when anything newsworthy happens.  As for the new Lancaster Armory, I will take a “wait and see” approach.  I hope it’s legit, and that the new owner becomes known for running a quality company.  As always, actions will speak a heck of a lot louder than words.

20 comments:

  1. I knew Chet wouldn't pay a dime to the Arizona AG. He conned them like he conned everyone else. I wonder what new business he'll start now. HIs M.O. is to start a business and con and rip people off. Then when he runs the business into the ground and gets sued by everyone he disappears and starts a new business. Hes been doing this for years. Just wait and he'l be ripping people off again soon enough.

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  2. I am very, very tempted to order one of their 9.5" pistols, but I do not want to be a guinea pig.

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  3. Well, you can try ordering with a credit card. That way if things go south you'll at least have some protection. You'll just need to remember that you usually only have 60 days from date of purchase to dispute a charge on your credit card.

    I would assume the "new" Lancaster accepts credit cards, although their website doesn't say. If they don't accept credit cards, that should be interpreted as a huge red flag. In 2013, no legitimate AK manufacturer would be operating on a "cash or cash equivalent" only basis. Given Lancaster's history and the current lack of clarity as to who is actually running the show their right now, I absolutely would not do business with them unless they are willing to take a credit card.

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  4. I actually purchased a tactical ak from the new owner Anthony. So far I am very happy with it. I got a pretty good deal and the weapon seems to be legit. I have not had a problem where I had to warranty anything yet, so I cannot say how that will go, but I am pleased with it never the less.

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  5. As expected, the lying SOB defaulted on the judgement. Special place in hell for a POS like Durda.

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  6. Of course Durda defaulted on the judgment. That sociopath never had any intention of paying a dime. He just agreed to whatever he had to agree to in order to get the AG off his back. Classic Durda. Once a con man, always a con man. As court records show, Chet Durda has a long history of being a deadbeat. I wouldn't even feel comfortable loaning the guy enough money to buy a cup of coffee. He would surely stiff you on that, too.

    BTW, the new owner of Lancaster posted on another message board recently. He seems like a decent guy, but he admitted that when he bought Lancaster he had no idea just how much ill will Chet Durda had created with this company. Apparently his attorney advised him to change the name, and the new owner didn't take his attorney's advice. Bad, bad idea. When you're paying an attorney to give advice, more often than not you should probably take that advice.

    This new owner also got some really good advice from members of that forum, but looking at Lancaster's current website it doesn't appear that he took any of that advice to heart. He'll learn sooner or later I suppose. He did admit to being hard-headed.

    Problem is, it didn't sound like he could afford to be hard-headed. Because he also admitted that Lancaster, as a company, is barely hanging on. That's just one more reason he should have changed the name. He's trying to get a business back on its feet with a severely damaged brand name.

    This new owner might be a nice guy, but he doesn't appear to be very business-savvy. Will be interesting to see if he's still in business a year from now.

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  7. I haven't purchased anything from Lancaster so I am saying this without being burned. Take it as you will.

    It seems that Anthony is looking to rename the company. Hopefully he can turn things around as some of the machining services they offer are harder to find.

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  9. I have purchase two guns from the new Lancaster Owner with the last 6 months and things have been great! I purchased an AK-74 and an AK-47 both were easy great transactions. I have dealt with many AK builder, and by the way most of them are BS and try to sell you things you don't need and also put you down for not knowing the AK like they do also over priced, (Milled or not Milled they are 3rd world guns they should not cost you 2K!!). The new Lancaster owner guided me through the process of what he was doing and kept me up today with everything he was doing as the build was going on. He was great A++. Even shipped the gun overnight so i could have it for my weekend hunting trip.

    I am not sure how the old owner ran things but I do not see any reason to ruin a new mans business with American Made products because of someone else's BS back ground, also the name Lancaster is a great sounding Brand, maybe he liked it and wanted to keep it.

    Give Lancaster a Shot and get a great solid build and a beautiful AK. 2,000 rounds through both and still happy

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    1. That's really odd, chet taught him how to build the weapons, and most likely built yours. The last time I saw him he was at the new lancaster building weapons. Congrats on getting a good few rifles. I'm a bit late with my post but better late than never.

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    2. That's really odd, chet taught him how to build the weapons, and most likely built yours. The last time I saw him he was at the new lancaster building weapons. Congrats on getting a good few rifles. I'm a bit late with my post but better late than never.

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  10. The current Lancaster Arms website is currently shutdown. Any idea when the website is reactivated? BTW, Have the new owner of Lancaster Arms have considered to change it's name to a better one, to attract potential buyers? How about:

    Partisan Arms
    American Kalashnikov
    Tovarich Arms


    OMT: The new owner of Lancaster Arms, does he have its blog?

    That's all.

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  11. How can I find the list of bad serial#s of lancaster ak74's ? Mines in the lie 800's.

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    1. It would have catastrophically failed by now. Either too large a gas hole or an employee ordered 100 barrels with the wrong inside diameter sand figured he could have the chrome lining upped to meat the ID. They would blow out the chrome liner quickly.

      Use www.thewaybackmachine.com to find the old lancaster site and find the "bad serial number list" there.

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    2. It would have catastrophically failed by now. Either too large a gas hole or an employee ordered 100 barrels with the wrong inside diameter sand figured he could have the chrome lining upped to meat the ID. They would blow out the chrome liner quickly.

      Use www.thewaybackmachine.com to find the old lancaster site and find the "bad serial number list" there.

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  12. According to this post on AKFiles from late 2013 http://www.akfiles.com/forums/showthread.php?t=167579 Anthony Petrone is the new owner and has renamed the business to Petronova Armament. http://www.petronovarmament.com/

    It's been a while and I haven't heard anything, I wonder what Chester is up to today. I wonder how long before he finds himself in prison.

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  13. Yeah, Lancaster Arms got sold to Anthony Petronova. At first he stuck with the name Lancaster Arms, but he quickly realized that wasn't a good idea at all and changed the name to Petronova Armament.

    As far as I know, Chet Durda crawled back under the rock from which he came. That dude has pretty much disappeared as far as I know. I fully expected him to start a new scam, since he had a long and distinguished history of running businesses into the ground (often using money borrowed from other people), and then starting a new bound-to-fail business. But this time, Durda hasn't come back. Yet. Maybe he finally realized his name is worthless in this industry, or maybe he just ran out of victims to borrow money from.

    Speaking of money, he still owes a lot of it to a lot of people. And he never paid a dime of the money he agreed to pay the Arizona Attorney Generals office. Which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows Chester Durda. Once a con man and thief, always a con man and thief. Maybe that's why he went into hiding. He owes so many people so much money, probably better for him to attempt to disappear. For sure, just Googling his name would be enough to warn off any bank or other hapless soul who might lend him money.

    I guess poor Chet never fully realized that in the Internet age, shady behavior and old sins don't go away like they may have in the past. They remain on the Internet for posterity, just waiting to be revealed to anyone who cares to look. This is as it should be.

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    1. He had 60 some odd counts of fraud levied against him by the state AGs office, each containing a 10 thousand dollars fine. He sold Lancaster to some poor schmoe who changed the name and tried to keep it running. I'm not sure of the name or if they are still in business. Chet lost his house and filed chapter 11. Not only were his customers screwed over, his employees were also. 6 months without pay or more with the promise of a check "next week".

      It's sad as they did make truly great looking and shooting AK platform rifles but you can't treat people like he did. -anonymous inside info.

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  14. I see this hasn't been updated in 3 years. Does anyone know what good ol' Chester is up to these days?

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  15. No idea. A Google search for "Chet Durda" in the last 12 months reveals nothing, other than an old court case from 2011 in Indiana. (Someone sued Durda in Knox County, Indiana small claims court for $695. You can bet money Durda never made good on that court judgement. Last time I checked, Durda had six figures worth of various unpaid court judgements against him. That's called "being a deadbeat".)

    Maybe Durda finally realized that screwing people over now takes too much work, and comes with too much risk of getting caught. But you can be sure I have a permanent Google search set-up for Durda's name, so that anytime his name reappears anywhere on the Internet, I get an email about it. After Chester Durda brazenly ripped me off I swore that, to the best of my ability, I wouldn't let it happen to anyone else.

    If he ever shows his face again with a new business, I will make sure that any potential customers of his know all about his past business practices. And if he doesn't open a new business, I'm satisfied with the fact that Google will never let him (or anyone else) forget about how many people he has ripped-off over many decades.

    "Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive."

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You are welcome, and in fact encouraged, to leave your comments about experiences with Lancaster Arms. The only requirement is that you stick to facts, or well-documented opinions.

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About Me

But quite willing to "help" Lancaster Arms fully understand why the way they run their business, is completely unacceptable.

Welcome to LancasterArmsSucks.blogspot.com

This site exist to help police a firearms manufacturer that has decided to run its business using questionable ethics. Too often, there is not enough complete, accurate information on the Internet about companies engaged in the manufature of firearms. It is my hope that this blog shall serve as a useful tool to help guide potential customers of Lancaster Arms to a fully-informed decision. As of the start date of this blog, many, many people feel as though Lancaster Arms does not run an honest business. We'll let the chips fall where they may...