Ohio, Toronto dealers lost biz
The Tire Kingdom outlet in Marion, Ohio, had a power outage Aug. 14 from around 4 to 10 p.m., according to Service Manager Jeremy Wright.
``It was chaos for a while, but we were able to keep running on our reserve air tanks,'' Mr. Wright said. ``We couldn't balance tires, but there weren't a lot of customers in the balance area.''
The financial damage to the store was difficult to calculate but could have been much worse, he said. ``Potentially it could have cost us several thousand dollars, but this market is real sporadic. We could sell 20 tires in our last hour every day, or none.''
In Toronto, one of the cities generally hardest hit by the blackout, the problems tire dealers faced depended very much on where they were in Canada's largest city.
``We were only here a couple of hours during the blackout,'' said Pat McGrath, manager of City Tire Ltd. in Toronto. ``We worked through it, and then we had the lights back on Friday morning. We did have to turn a few people away, but we're a downtown store, so people weren't trying to drive in at that hour.''
In another part of Toronto, however, Ossington Tire Corp. lost power until late in the afternoon on Aug. 16. ``No power, no air, no business,'' said owner Ken Ossington. ``The power came on too late for us on Saturday, since we're only open until 1 p.m. then, so all we could do was open up on Monday morning. We lost thousands.''-by Miles Moore, Tire Business senior Washington reporter.
N.Y. dealers kept watch at night
When the electricity went out all over the Northeast, Mario Crociata and his employees had to figure out what to do with 14 cars up on lifts and 16 electrically powered gates that needed to be rolled down by the end of the day. Roughly two hours later, the dealership's employees manually closed all the gates.
``I had cars stuck all over the place in the mechanical shop because everything was up on lifts,'' said Mr. Crociata, who together with his brother-in-law, Vincent Aurora, co-owns Whitey's Tire Service in Brooklyn, N.Y.
``All the way around, it's a total loss for us,'' he said, referring to the loss of business and loss of payroll.
With his alarm system unable to work, Mr. Crociata said he had relatives and friends help keep an eye on the shop on Thursday and Friday nights. He said someone did cut a lock but couldn't break into the store, thanks to the gates.
Fortunately, Whitey's Tire didn't lose any computerized customer records. ``We are the computers,'' he said with a laugh.
Amityville Firestone in Amityville, N.Y., lost $800 worth of business when the blackout hit, according to President Ernie Caramanico, including a couple of tire sales. Employees had to leave a few cars on the lifts, and they gave one customer a ride home.
Some of the dealership's records on one computer were lost temporarily but were later retrieved.-by Vera Fedchenko, Tire Business staff.
Blackout pricey for Dunn Tire
The rolling power blackout couldn't have hit Dunn Tire Corp. stores at a worse time.
The Buffalo, N.Y.-based dealership had six stores in the Rochester, N.Y., area go down after about 4 p.m. Aug. 14 during what typically is the busiest time of day. ``In total we probably lost 13 to 15 percent of our normal daily sales,'' reported Randall L. Clark, Dunn Tire chairman and president. ``We're open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., so that 4-to-7 time are three very big hours for us.''
While the power outage affected all the dealership's Rochester stores, ``Buffalo was very spotty,'' he said. ``Across the street from my home, the power was on but my power was off all night.''
The company's Buffalo warehouse, for instance, never had its power interrupted.
Service-wise, the affected Dunn Tire stores weren't crimped too much by the blackout because ``we're typically a tires-only format,'' Mr. Clark said, ``so you really don't have a problem. We could finish what we were working on at the time because you're just bolting on tires. But obviously you couldn't finish an alignment.... Most of what we do we can do manually if we have to. The guys using air guns can pick up their tools and finish the job.''
However, the blackout did take down all the stores' computers, ``so you can't process any more sales,'' he said.
By midday Aug. 15, all of Dunn Tire's stores were up and running and things looked ``very normal,'' he said.
All the dealership's Greater Rochester stores were affected and, ``as luck would have it, I was there,'' Mr. Clark said. ``But I have to admit, I was at a PGA tournament there and the power outage didn't seem to affect the golfers at all.''
Dunn Tire operates 29 company-owned stores in upstate New York and western Pennsylvania.-by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk, Tire Business staff.
Always be prepared
Safeway Tire Co. in Cleveland was able to take care of all of its customers by being prepared for emergencies, according to co-owner Gary Adamic.
``We were able to service everybody by using our mobile service trucks,'' he said. ``We just brought them back to the shop and used the equipment on the trucks to take care of what jobs we still had to do.
``We thought we were clever a few years back,'' he continued. ``We put our auto service center on one power company and the tire store on another. But obviously this time even that didn't help.
``Since it was already pretty late in the day-the power went out about 4:30 and we close at 6-it wasn't so bad,'' he said. ``Any vehicles in the service bays that time of day are most likely scheduled for work through the next day anyway.''
Safeway operates two businesses, a 16-bay tire service center and 18-bay automotive service center, on Cleveland's near east side.-by Bruce Davis, Tire Business staff.