theBusiness

Volume 47, Issue 12 - December 2012

NewsNow

Hurricane Sandy Leaves Glass Shops Scrambling to Respond to Customers
"The first impression that comes to people’s minds is that, ‘Oh, the hurricane caused lots of glass breakage, you guys will be making out great!’ and that’s so far from the truth,” says Robin Selesky, operations manager for ATM Mirror & Glass in Buchanan, N.Y., when asked about Hurricane Sandy. “It has been havoc on our industry.”

“Havoc” might be even too weak a word when considering the hurricane’s impact on the East Coast; the late October storm left behind emergency declarations in 11 states and the District of Columbia; major disasters in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island; and millions of power outages and evacuations.

Reports came in from concerned readers noting that E.C. Contracting Inc. in Freeport, N.Y., had lost its whole shop: four trucks, offices and warehouse. However, company representative Angela Gentile told USGlass on November 7, “We are now up and running.”

With all employees safe and accounted for, the glazing contractor now is juggling customer demands with the job of rebuilding a workspace severely damaged by the storm.

“We are ripping down the walls and we’re going to be rebuilding them,” Gentile says of the flood damage throughout the company’s office space.

Companies in the New York and New Jersey areas not directly damaged by the storm are still feeling the impact.

ATM Mirror & Glass provides glazing services in the metro New York City area, but was spared major damage to its shops and among its employees, according to Selesky. However, she notes, “There have been challenges.” She explains, “I have literally a pile of projects that are ready for installation, that can’t be installed: many residents have had sustained damage to their homes, many are just getting power back up (or are without power still) and are staying elsewhere; having a shower door installed is the last thing on their priority list. ” Selesky says.

In the days immediately following the storm, securing gas and diesel was among the most severe problems. “With Jersey refineries being off-line, combined with the large volume of people relying on generators to power their homes, gas is quickly becoming scarce in New York,” Selesky explains. Shortly after the storm, the company’s fleet trucks encountered limited gas availability, gas purchase limitations and long lines at the pumps. On top of that, the Associated Press reported as of November 5 that price gouging for gas and other essentials is being investigated in New York as more than 300 cases had been reported as of that date.

Jeff Haber, a managing partner of the glazing contractor W&W Glass LLC in Nanuet, N.Y., is, like those at ATM, asking for patience and understanding from customers in the region.

“Our message to our customers is bear with us as we are doing everything possible to get both material and manpower to the jobsites and get back to work,” he adds.

Fabricators in the region are waiting for the long-term impact of the storm damage.

J. Sussman Inc. in Jamaica, N.Y., remained open in the days following the hurricane, “due in part to our solar panels,” says David Sussman. The fabricator had not yet received calls requesting work due to the hurricane. “It [was] actually quiet the [next] week,” Sussman says. “I do, however, expect to get some calls to replace windows for churches that might have been damaged.”

Chris McGrory, vice president of McGrory Glass in Paulsboro, N.J., says his company was extremely fortunate.

“I was pretty nervous about my house at the Jersey Shore but more importantly the 2,700 solar panels that were sitting on the roof of our building this past summer. Although the eye of the storm essentially passed over both my shore home and our building, we were much more fortunate than the good people of North Jersey and New York.”

He adds that many of his company’s prime customers in the New York area were affected greatly. “The lucky ones were down for only a week while others are still trying to get up and running.”


USG
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