Atlanta Glass Industry Works to Pick up the Pieces after Crippling Winter Weather

Snow01_formatDavid Cox, the general manager for Atlanta-based Southeastern Insulated Glass, did the best thing he could have done Tuesday evening as the snow and ice brought the city’s unprepared roads and interstates to its knees.

He wisely remained in the relative comforts provided by the glass manufacturing company’s headquarters well into the night rather than be among the thousands of frustrated residents who found themselves mired in their cars along the metropolitan Atlanta area’s frozen highways with no means of getting home.

“I stayed there until about 5 a.m. [Wednesday morning],” Cox says. “I thought I’d let things cool down a little bit.”

Cox still had problems getting home the following morning, needing a little more than an hour and some roadside assistance from some good Samaritans before finally making the entire nine miles home. His was among the better stories to come out of Atlanta that evening, as some motorists were stranded in their cars for as long as 24 hours.

The entire region came to an abrupt halt, leaving kids stranded at schools and scores of abandoned vehicles along the roads and highways to more resemble a post-apocalyptic scene that would make Hollywood jealous.

“All of Atlanta’s roads were like oiled glass,” says Penn McClatchey, the co-CEO of Atlanta-based Southern Aluminum Finishing (SAF).

“Many of our employees were stuck in their cars for hours. One of our sales staff was stuck in his car for nine hours and there were times he didn’t think he was going to make it at all.”

Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency and activated the Georgia National Guard to help rescue the thousands of stranded motorists. All schools and businesses remained closed on Wednesday and most on Thursday as well, as road crews work diligently to make travel possible again.

“On the bright side,” McClatchey says, “Atlanta did not suffer Internet outages and our project managers were able to work from home. So much business is done on the Internet now that the main impact on SAF’s business was our ability to manufacture and deliver from our two Georgia facilities.”

SAF instead relied on its California branch to maintain customer service, McClatchey says.

But things are only now starting to get back to normal in Atlanta, with warmer temperatures today and through the weekend expected to facilitate the recovery.

McClatchey says SAF will have its Georgia production running again by today’s second shift and “hitting on all cylinders” tomorrow.

Things are likewise shaping back into form at YKK AP America, says Oliver Stepe, the company’s senior vice president.

“Things are almost back to normal in Georgia!” he says in a post on the professional social network Linkedin.com. “Our corporate office and branch location in Austell, Ga., shall re-open at 12 p.m. on [Thursday] and our Dublin, Ga., plant operations resumed normal operations at 3 p.m. [Wednesday]. Thanks to our friends and to our customers for your wishes and concern and we expect minimal service disruption from this extreme weather event.”

For others, though, business figures to remain slow for a while longer, says Kevin Middlebrook, the Atlanta regional manager for Jones Glass Inc.

“We just have a skeleton crew today,” he says. “Some of our guys still can’t get out of their driveways.”

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