SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES contacted wholesalers operating in the southern California area to ask what impact the fires had on their business. Here is what they said:
John Rondina, assistant manager, Standard Plumbing & Supply, San Diego:We were closed for the first day because of the smoke. We were a little bit busier than normal on Tuesday (Oct. 28). I'm not sure if that was because people were backed up after a closed day or if that was due to fires. As of Nov. 3, it was back to business as usual. We work with a lot of repair plumbers, not new construction, so we would be involved in work on homes that weren't completely damaged.
Paula Mendell, owner/president, Reliable Pipe Supply, San Diego:Things virtually came to a standstill on Monday, Oct. 27. All the schools were closed for the entire week due to poor air quality. It was surreal and sad. The mayor was on the news telling employers to let their employees have time off on Monday to keep the roads clear. Monday was quiet except for emergency workers. Tuesday people went to work. It has been touch and go. The last Sunday of October was pretty grim. A lot of people have lost everything. Eventually we will have to rebuild. We are an industrial supply house. The larger plumbing wholesalers will more likely benefit from home building. Contractors are getting geared up to rebuild, but it will be a while before insurance companies pay out. Pipe, valve and fitting wholesalers will eventually benefit from this tragedy, but it will take some time. I am having a fundraiser for the victims of the fire on Dec. 11. I have a tradeshow/party every year and turn it into a charitable event. It is not always easy getting vendors to dig in their pockets and write out a check, but I think this year will be different.
Paul Geiger, owner/president Geiger Supply, Big Bear Lake, Calif.:We were closed from Tuesday, Oct. 28 to Monday, Nov. 3. The valley in Big Bear wasn't touched, but surrounding areas were (Arrowhead and Running Spring valleys). Arrowhead may have lost 300 homes. Some of our customers are just drifting back into town and getting back to their jobs.
There's a lot of new construction. We work mostly in residential construction. Nicer homes in a few of the outlying areas have sprinkler systems. We'll probably see more of that.