Special issue: weathering the storm.

The business impact big storms have on remodelers and home-improvement companies.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the focus was on the human and property toll. News images told the story: a boardwalk roller coaster mangled and surrounded by the sea; a flooded, night-time conflagration that was once a neighborhood of more than 100 homes; and many others.

Here at Professional Remodeler, soon after the storm, we began seeing images from camera phones and hearing first-person stories from you, our readers. Long Island remodeler Laurence Carolan told the story of a couple in their 60s who had been watching TV when the storm hit. Within an hour, the storm surge had risen waist high in their single-story ranch. They said their goodbyes to each other before the water finally stopped rising just less than five feet, Carolan said, allowing the couple to make their way to higher ground and safety.

Another Long Island remodeler, Sal Ferro, of Alure Home Improvements, hopped on an ATV and navigated trees and debris to assist a hard-hit group of neighbors. He covered damaged roofs and supervised estimates and ordering. Meanwhile, two Alure employees were completely washed out of their homes, and their colleagues pitched in to help them get back on their feet.

Over the ensuing weeks and months, Alure took on scores of large and small jobs, extending and stretching the team to previously unknown limits. In hindsight, Ferro admits, if a storm like Sandy were to hit again he would likely have to say, ‘No,’ to more people in the community he serves. Responding to storms can be unprofitable. Worse, remodelers can overextend to the point of losing money if they are not careful, pushing some to the financial brink.

This package of stories is about the business impact of big storms on remodelers and home-improvement companies. Insurance-restoration firms specialize in handling emergencies because their business models are built to handle storms. But thousands of other firms, pressed into storm service out of necessity, are not trained or equipped to estimate for emergency service work. Nor have many remodelers had the experience of working with residential property insurance companies, how they pay, and how they mark-up labor. In the following stories we provide a primer that will help remodelers frame their strategies for approaching storm work.

First, we present our exclusive research demonstrating the high percentage of remodelers who see storms as a double- edged sword—opportunity and peril combined. Next, our award-winning contributor, Wendy Jordan, profiles leading insurance restoration firms with an eye toward imparting lessons from storm pros. The remaining portions of the package tell the stories of remodelers who managed amid the biggest storms over the past few years. Highlighting large remodelers and small alike, these stories provide insights for navigating a business through the next big storm.

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