One year ago, a hallowed yet profound silence traumatized the American people as terrorists attacked and destroyed two of the most recognizable symbols in this country - the twin World Trade Center towers. Almost 3,000 people were killed and more than 250 million were left in shock. While another plane hit the Pentagon and one more plummeted to the ground in Pennsylvania, the video footage of the towers collapsing is the image tattooed in every American's mind.
Immediately following the attacks, no one knew what to expect. With people living in fear that another attack would take place, the economy suffered. Since then, the stock market and overall economy have had ups and downs for the entire nation, but New York wholesalers close to ground zero have suffered even more with the loss of two buildings representing enough work to resemble a city of its own.
In the October 2001 issue of Supply House Times, we interviewed some New York wholesalers to get their reactions and tell their own problems encountered from the tragedy of Sept. 11. Now, almost one year later, we talked to some of the same wholesalers and asked them how their business is today and to tell what changes they have seen in their business over the last year in response to the terrorist attack.
F&M Plumbing Supply of New York"We have been working hard to recover from 9/11," said Raymond Arroyo, office manager. "We had a van involved a couple of blocks away, but we recovered it and had it fixed and cleaned up." F&M Plumbing Supply is only two miles from the disaster site in lower Manhattan. "We're slowly getting business back in that area. We're aggressively trying to pick up business elsewhere. People are still mourning and the event was so tragic, but I can't say business here has been all that bad. Now we're just waiting for people to get back to work in the area. When that happens, I think things will begin to pick up quickly."
Sidney Samuels"It hasn't been good at all," said Jonas Dymond, president. "The economy has affected us immensely, and much of that is because of Sept. 11." The tragedy of the World Trade Center affected Sidney Samuels directly.
"One of our biggest customers was a company that had the World Trade Center maintenance contract, and the loss of that work has really hurt us, on site and with direct sales," Dymond continued. "We also had individual contractors within the buildings represented. It was just such a sad tragedy and we are still trying to recover. It's hard to predict the future, and the loss is a void, that as I see it, will not be filled for at least another three years. We're in it for the long haul, though. But everyone in the industry here could sure use a lift."
Ferguson Enterprises"Overall business is doing well," said Chip Hornsby, president. "However, some markets have been more heavily influenced by the events of Sept. 11th than others. Housing starts are stable but commercial/industrial business is off and likely will continue to be for some time to come. The stock market is generally an indicator of the next six to twelve months and we could still be in for more tough times ahead. On the positive side, however, it doesn't look like any near term increase in interest rates from the Fed is likely."
In recognition of its help following the 9/11 tragedy, Ferguson's Integrated Systems Division received the American Eagle Award, a very distinguished honor, from the Industrial Supply Manufacturers Association. The award was presented for a new category - Patriotism.
"During the days immediately following the attacks, New York City desperately needed supplies for the rescue effort," said Mark Bass, purchasing coordinator for Ferguson Integrated Systems Division in Cincinnati. "People around the country were sending money, which was great, but we knew the men and women at ground zero needed actual supplies and needed them in a hurry. So we collected donations from employees and from people outside of the business and filled two 24-ft. trucks with supplies, such as gloves, shovels, hard hats, masks and bottled water. Then five of our drivers left on the eve of Sept. 14th and drove all night long, taking turns driving so they could nap and stay refreshed, and got there with the supplies on the 15th. From what I heard, people were very emotional and excited when the supplies arrived. They clapped as police escorted the vehicles into ground zero. It felt wonderful to know we made a difference."
Davis & Warshow"I think in the main business aspect we're satisfied with what we have today," said Frank Finkel, president. "A number of buildings were quickly repaired and, as sad as the tragic event was, some new business came out of it. Of course business is a bit slower with what happened on 9/11, but some of that is also because of the overall economy being down. With some of the city's budgets being in the red for the year, it's tougher for them to spend, but it seems some have put money aside for some projects. It will probably take at least another year to get the business back to where we want it to be. We just try to do what we do best, and what we do best is distribution."
Apple Specialties"The amount of work we've had has been pretty stagnant, a lot going on by way of remodeling, but not much new construction," said Jim Csorney, president. Apple Specialties is located three and a half blocks from the WTC site. "While business has been steady and we have about the same gross, we probably won't see as much profit as we did a year ago."
According to Csorney, federal grants and tax breaks have made it a little easier to survive in the sagging economy. "These grants have allowed smaller businesses to stay open. Most have suffered with the loss of walk-up business. The incentives have helped keep people employed. We haven't had to let anyone go, and we're proud of that. We've worked hard to keep everyone."
When asked how soon he saw a recovery underway, Csorney was unsure."The country has been so supportive. Whenever the government gets things together, which will probably be another year or so, we'll start to see more progress. But right now, you never know."
Side Bar: Let's Not Forget Those Still In Need Of AssistanceAlthough more than $100 million in contributions have already been made to families that lost loved ones in the 9/11/01 terrorist strike on our nation, more remains to be done. Contributions can still be funneled through a variety of organizations listed at the Web site www.libertyunites.org.
Additionally, here are some other ways to help:
- Donate Blood -The American Red Cross has expanded its ability to schedule blood donation appointments online. Visit its site, www.redcross.org, or call 1-800-GIVELIFE. To give blood you must be healthy, at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, not have donated blood in the last 56 days or donated double red cells in the last 112 days. There is no upper age limit. You may not give blood if you have received notification from the American Red Cross or any other blood collection organization asking you not to do so.
- Take a first aid or CPR course - Prepare yourself to respond in an emergency.
- Consider jobs that support our country - Go to www.governementguide.com click on Benefits & Assistance.
- Participate in eBay's Auction for America - Tens of thousands of members of the eBay Community donated time, items and resources to raising millions of dollars during Auction for America. These funds will help meet the needs of the victims, families and communities impacted by the attacks of September 11th.
- Become a tissue donor - Hundreds of burn victims from New York and Washington highlight how important it is for every American to fill out a tissue or organ donor card. By simply signing a pledge card, a person can help or save as many as 50 other lives if the worst should occur.