December 4, 2013

Businesses preparing for onslaught of calls when bad weather arrives

Firewood sales were at a peak Wednesday, but heating repair companies were waiting their turn.

The threat of icy weather brought a surge of customers to some businesses Wednesday as homeowners prepared for the cold snap.

And if the winter storm continues to develop as forecast, those businesses will be slammed again Thursday.

Keith Eichman, owner of Cowtown Tree and Land Services in Fort Worth, was out of breath Wednesday afternoon talking about the number of customers who have come to his place in the past couple of days to stock up on firewood. It was hard for him to answer the phone during the day because he was busy chopping wood. Deliveries have him working until 11 p.m.

“There’s been an increase over last year anyway,” Eichman said. “It’s too much to handle right now. The first cold spell, 10 days ago, I probably had seven to eight times the number of orders. I’m real surprised at the number of orders I’m getting today because it’s 80 degrees.”

Likewise, Mike Hendrixson, owner of Hendrixson Tree Service in Mansfield, said he had 20 firewood deliveries by midday. Typically, he’ll have four to five a day, he said.

“We try to keep stocked up,” Hendrixson said.

Heating service companies were reporting normal call volume Wednesday but were preparing for more.

Phill Seward, service manager at ESP Services in Arlington, said service technicians were stocking trucks with furnace parts and emergency numbers to manufacturers were being pulled to have at their fingertips. He was also reminding workers to keep their cellphones charged and at hand so they could take service calls all day and all night, if need be.

“I’ll set my alarm clock two hours earlier and get up to see what the weather is like,” Seward said. If it’s bad, he’ll head to the office right away to get a jump start on the day. “I’ll have had a pot of coffee by then,” he said.

Lewis Geer, owner of Geer Heating and Cooling in Watauga, said that most of his customers have had their furnace checkups by now and that business has been a little slow for repairs.

“If anything, I’ll be getting some more work,” he said.

Stark Service in Hurst was also reporting a normal pace of business Wednesday, but service technicians are on alert for an uptick should the weather worsen.

Freddy Johnson, sales associate at the Goodyear Tire & Auto store on Camp Bowie Boulevard in Fort Worth, expects people to begin rushing in when the cold air hits. He’s anticipating batteries and coolants to be big sellers in the next few days.

“People rush in at the last minute,” Johnson said.

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