Two Weeks, Two Storms and their Impact on the Industry

It's early in the hurricane season, but in the last two weeks parts of Florida and other surrounding states have endured the impact of both Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricane Dennis.

Although neither approached the gravity of some of last season's storms, they still caused a lot of damage.

Certainly, an increase in business is likely for glass shops located within the path of the storms, but like everything else pelted by the winds and rain, there is also the chance of damage to their own facilities.

One of the areas hardest hit by the recent storms was Pensacola, Fla. Spots to the west of the city and into Alabama and Mississippi also saw a damage. Alabama inland towns appeared to bear the brunt of the storm, which maintained hurricane-strength winds as it moved north through the state.

A Safelite spokesperson reported that as of today, all Safelite locations are operating in the affected areas, with the exception of Pensacola, which is expected to be up and operating tomorrow, Wednesday. The location was closed due to the evacuation of the area and a power outage.

Like many businesses in the hardest hit areas, power outages and local flooding kept the Safelite AutoGlass locations in Panama City, Fla., and Mobile, Ala., closed on Monday. Mobile service, however, has been available in all areas and in-shop service in these two locations is expected to resume by mid-week, the Columbus, Ohio-based company reported.

Tom Ashley, who runs the Glass Doctor in Niceville, Fla., a half hour from where the heavy storm hit, points out, "In the past we saw an increase in business, both in automotive and flat glass. But now, residents are taking more precautions by boarding up their homes and evacuating the area. Business is typically slow shortly after the storms hit ground, but after a few days business begins to pick up as people return to their homes."

At the Glass Doctor location in Homewood, Ala., Jerry Dickinson said the storm had no impact. "We only had heavy rains, which in turn slows business."

Tom Lee III of Lee & Cates Glass, which is headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., with a number of stores throughout the state, reported that his company was spared by this storm.

"Our closest store is in Panama City, which was about 80 miles from the eye. This was a fast-moving and thin-in-size hurricane. Thus, it hit hard and fast but not widespread. Fortunately or unfortunately, there was not a lot of damage for us as a company to repair."

An Associated Press article reported that a glass business owned by Pat Crenshaw in Atmore, Ala., was reduced to cinderblock rubble. The article quotes Crenshaw as saying, "There's nothing left. No insurance. Couldn't afford it."
"It's hard, knowing you're down and out. Everything you fought for, everything you've built up, is all gone," he added.

As the storms approached, newspapers and television news programs focused on how Floridians have prepared after the devastation of Ivan with hurricane-resistant glass. It is one of the most expensive upgrades, which storm-weary consumers are choosing to make.

No reproduction, in print, electronic or any form without the expressed written permission of
Key Communications Inc. 540-720-5584.