In storm's wake, businesses in demand

Staff WriterApril 19, 2011 

  • Lowes Home Improvement has not yet decided whether to rebuild the Sanford store that was almost demolished Saturday.

    The store, which opened in 1998, was about 100,000 square feet, including the outdoor garden center. Lowes spokeswoman Stacey Lentz said the company is still assessing the damage. The store will remain closed until further notice.

    In all, the store had 160 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, all of whom have been offered positions in other area stores, including those in Pittsboro, Apex, Erwin and Cary.

    The Mooresville-based company had human resources officials and trauma counselors on site for employees and held an all-employee meeting Monday.

    For customers who had installations, other services or special orders at the Sanford store: all records have been transferred to the Pittsboro store, 121 Lowes Drive. Pittsboro store employees will be contacting those customers, or customers may call 919-642-4030.

  • Lowe's Home Improvement has not yet decided whether to rebuild the Sanford store that was almost demolished Saturday.

    The store, which opened in 1998, was about 100,000 square feet, including the outdoor garden center. Lowe's spokeswoman Stacey Lentz said the company is still assessing the damage. The store will remain closed until further notice.

    In all, the store had 160 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, all of whom have been offered positions in other area stores, including those in Pittsboro, Apex, Erwin and Cary.

    The Mooresville-based company had human resources officials and trauma counselors on site for employees and held an all-employee meeting Monday.

    For customers who had installations, other services or special orders at the Sanford store: all records have been transferred to the Pittsboro store, 121 Lowes Drive. Pittsboro store employees will be contacting those customers, or customers may call 919-642-4030.

On Saturday, after a tornado swept through Raleigh, Tim Robbins' cellphone started ringing - and it hasn't stopped.

Robbins, the third-generation owner of Arbormax Tree Services in Raleigh, said he has had his crew of 30 and three cranes working tree-removal jobs around the clock since the tornado.

"Phone call after phone call after phone call, and then a phone call in between the phone calls," he said.

Robbins is among many area business owners who found themselves suddenly in high demand Saturday night as Triangle residents started to dig out and clean up.

Though the circumstances are regrettable, the tornado has caused a boom for some businesses.

Arbormax is taking care of the most critical jobs first - those that cause an unsafe situation or those in which a tree came down on a building or home.

Robbins said his company will soon switch to smaller jobs, removing downed trees that pose less of an immediate risk.

"There are about 10 million," he said. "There's months and months of restoration work."

At the Ace Hardware store in Raleigh's Seaboard Station, people came looking for chain saws and other supplies Monday. Owner Bob King even sold two snow shovels to folks who wanted to move debris.

"We opened half an hour early, and there were people lined up out front," he said.

And, area Lowe's Home Improvement and Home Depot stores have been selling a lot.

"It's the chainsaws, generators, tarps, plywood, all the way down to packing boxes," Home Depot spokesman Craig Fishel said. "Over the next couple of weeks, you'll see that transition to roofing supplies, windows and those sorts of things."

The chains have stepped up shipments and implemented emergency plans to make sure that stores get more of those items, and inventory is being monitored closely. Both chains are also donating supplies and people to the cleanup

And, as people look past the first few days of cleanup, other businesses may see a boost.

The PODS Moving & Storage company of Greater Raleigh delivered about 10 temporary storage units to people affected by the tornado, owner Evan Lennon said. The company is also offering a free storage unit to nonprofit organizations that are collecting items to help storm victims.

"It kind of took a day for people to kind of realize what was going on and kind of collect their thoughts," he said. "I think throughout the week, we're going to see some volume."

sue.stock@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4649

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