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Paul Stalknecht, president and chief executive officer of ACCA, was in Florida making site visits when the storm hit on Aug. 13. "If there is a silver lining in this latest show of force by Mother Nature," he told The News, "it is the strength and resilience shown by the HVACR contractors and technicians in Florida who are working around the clock to service their customers.
"We are receiving countless calls from our members across the nation who are asking if there are ways they can help their fellow contractors down there."
Ken Bodwell, president of the Florida ACCA Chapter and head of Innovative Service Solutions, a 20-employee company based in Orlando, said Charley's winds "literally ripped off screw heads on equipment." Todd Morgan, P.E., president and founder of Comprehensive Energy Services (CES) Inc., a 150-employee company also headquartered in Orlando, told The News he had customers in the eye of the storm.
Florida's peninsula also was clobbered by Frances and Jeanne, and parts of the state's Panhandle region suffered heavy damage when Hurricane Ivan moved into the Alabama coast.
"Ivan didn't know when to quit," said Gary Beeler of the National Weather Service in Mobile, referring to the damage the storm wrought in southern Alabama's interior counties and the loop-the-loop antics that took it across Florida and back into the Gulf of Mexico.
The hurricane season kept contractors busy in the damaged areas. In the short term, they dealt with getting systems up and running. In the long term, they tried to make sure they protected their employees and businesses from future storms. They also tried to get the word out to customers and potential customers to have patience and be wary of fly-by-nighters seeking to capitalize on the crises.
Many contractors came to the rescue of contractors who were overloaded. For instance, Robert Giancroce, president of Central Air Conditioning, Aiken, Ga., came to the aid of fellow contractor Don Miranda, Miranda's Sales and Service, Fort Pierce, Fla., by sending crews to help Miranda's employees get back on their feet and, in turn, help customers whose electrical and A/C equipment had been damaged by the hurricane.
"Donnie was in trouble, and we wanted to extend our resources to him," said Kevin Heaton, business development manager and vice president for Central Air. "It's not always about the dollar."
Publication date: 12/27/2004