AKRON-Rains sent by the ocean currents of ``El Ni¤o'' toward the California coast during January caused relatively minimal damage to tire dealerships, reports from the state indicate. But the weather pattern, which has caused more than an estimated $300 million in damage in 38 of California's 58 counties, undoubtedly wreaked havoc on a number of business owners.
Stan Buck, owner of Country Tire in Guerneville, Calif., was probably one of the hardest hit, according to Stephanie McCoubrey, executive director of the California Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association-North.
Mr. Buck's single-outlet dealership, which sits on a bank of the Russian River, ``is almost certainly underwater,'' Ms. McCoubrey said.
TIRE BUSINESS was unable to contact Mr. Buck by phone. But weather officials reported that Guerneville, one of the cities hardest hit by nearly two weeks of storms, received nearly 20 inches of rain from Jan. 3-11.
Other reports to the association were milder, she said.
``Most of the businesses themselves have not been damaged. There were some leaky roofs, but most got through this alright.''
Ed Cohn, executive director of the California Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association-South, said he had not received any major damage reports from his members.
Calls to a number of businesses throughout the state indicated that many tire dealers were operating normally, coping only with customers unable or unwilling to venture out in the rain for automotive service, and longer commuting times for employees.
``There aren't many people thinking about their cars,'' said a Goodyear spokesman, who said a number of Goodyear company-owned stores had to clean up after leaky roofs.
How the weather will affect automotive service in the following weeks remains to be seen, Ms. McCoubrey said, adding some dealers will probably pick up business from motorists whose vehicles were damaged by the storms.
``I've never heard of water hurting rubber,'' she joked, noting the rains probably won't affect tire sales. ``Maybe if we were in the carpet business, sales would be up.''