By Sharon Thatcher –
Rural builders and suppliers near the East Coast are expecting to have a busy winter as residents begin to clean up and move on in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The storm converged over the populated New York and New Jersey areas on Monday, October 29 when a Category 2 hurricane combined with an early winter storm from the west and bitter Arctic air from the south. By the time it was over, approximately 20 states were affected in some measure by snow, rain, wind or flood damage. The total cost of the storm in lost property alone is in the billions of dollars.
In Lebonan, Pa., Everlast Roofing prepared for the storm, taking heed of early warnings to close shop and head home. “A lot of roads were closed,” Frank Miklos, director of sales, explained. “They wouldn’t allow you on the turnpikes or bridges, so for the safety of our employees we shut down.”
The company reopened that Wednesday and were among the lucky ones that did not lose power. Some of the Everlast employees were not so lucky. “Some of our employees are still dealing with it,” Miklos said a week-and-a-half after the storm. “I think for the most part everyone has their power back, but it’s been sporadic. Once power goes back on, a transformer will blow some place else and the power will go out again. It’s been a struggle just to keep power on.”
The coming of winter will not make the task easy. A week after Sandy, a nor’easter blew along the damaged coast, once again downing power lines.
It will take awhile, Miklos said, to start feeling the business effects of the superstorm. “Initially everyone is just kind of reeling from everything,” he noted. “We had some initial inquiries about storm damage, more from a wind standpoint than anything, but I think at this point there’s a lot of wait-and-see until insurance companies do their inspections. The most of our customer base in Northern Pennsylvania, Eastern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have been out of power so we really haven’t seen that impact yet. On the Jersey coast, they’re just digging out to see what they have. In the next couple of weeks we should start seeing things happen.”
A week following the superstorm, Everlast was helping one of its customers, Pioneer Pole Buildings of Schuylkill, Pa., gather supplies for shipment to hard-hit Monmouth County near the New Jersey shore. Pioneer’s marketing manager Keith Gery said the effort started small and snowballed quickly. “It started with someone Diane and Bob [Greene] knew through their church,” he said referring to Pioneers’ owners. The Greene’s volunteered the use of an 18-foot box trailer. “Then a reporter called,” Gery continued. The publicity, plus several postings on Facebook resulted in an avalanche of donations. Their quiet office was abuzz with “a parade of people.” By the end of that week, the company’s conference rooms were stocked with food, clothing, hand tools and other supplies which flowed out the doors and into the hallways. “By the end of the last day of collections,” Gery explained, “several of us remained outside and just took boxes, bags, etc., directly from the donors to the trucks because room to work in the conference rooms was getting limited.”
Diane Greene said an additional larger truck was donated by another company and the supplies were loaded and whisked away to Monmouth County that Friday in “two box trailers and a Dodge Durango.”
When the employees at Pioneer Pole Buildings were able to catch their collective breath, they were welcomed with good news from a customer who wanted to share his good fortune. The man from Flanders, N.J., was elated to report that his 9-year-old, 32-x-24-foot Pioneer Pole Building on his debris-strewn property had survived. “Other than being covered with dirt blown on by the storm, the building remained a rock as the trees tumbled down around it,” Gery said.
Diane noted that none of their customers suffered any damage, and the company is instead busy helping to repair other buildings. Greene said the immediate concern was for repairs and echoed the opinion that any new work was still a ways out due to red tape delays.
With dealers and a plant located on the East Coast, Minnesota-based Lester Buildings is also keeping a close eye on what is happening in the storm-ravaged area. Larry Lembrich, senior vice-president of sales and marketing said the company’s plant an hour west of the Washington D.C. area did not experience any damage or disruptions and stands ready to provide products and services when the time arrives.
He also noted that Lester did not see any immediate rush in rebuilding activity as residents were busy evaluating their needs. “Most of our dealers and sales folks indicated that everyone is busy handling the most urgent life/health/personal property issues right now…and after severe storms pass through, it usually takes 4-6 months before we see significant needs in our business,” he explained.
When the time does arrive, as it surely will, Lembrich said the company is ready. “We are equipped with manufacturing capabilities, product and construction services,” he said, “and our Clear Brook, Va., plant stands ready to service our customer base should needs surface in upcoming weeks and months.”
Closer to the storm was Englert, Inc., located in Perth Amboy, N.J., yet it too avoided damage except for a few days of power loss. According to a letter released by company president Debbie Tripod, the company made preparations before the storm hit. “As a precaution, inventory was moved and all of our business systems were switched to off-site Englert locations prior to the storm.” They were “back on line – business as usual in Perth Amboy by the weekend.”
Englert is now focusing on the future. “All inventory has gone out as planned and arrangements have been made for additional inventory to meet the potential demand for materials created by the storm,” Tripod noted, adding: “The people of our region are tough. They will rebuild their communities; they will make them better than ever and all of us will be there to help them.”
Simpson Strong-Tie, is headquartered in California, but as a company that does business nationally, it also stepped up to help. It pledged $25,000 to Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts in the week following the superstorm. The money will go to the Red Cross to provide food, shelter, emotional support and other assistance. The company has also pledged to match employees’ personal contributions to the Red Cross and other nonprofit disaster relief organizations.
F&W Media, owner of Rural Builder, has established a special online resource guide for people in the effected superstorm area looking for building materials from qualified suppliers. 25 percent of the proceeds from listings will be donated to the American Red Cross. The guide can be accessed free of charge and without registration at