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Published: Friday, 2/25/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Snow equipment firms bask in flurry of winter business

BY CLAUDIA BOYD-BARRETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mechanic Bill Griffith works on a generator at Janney's Service Center in Toledo. Employees have been busy fixing snow-related devices since the start of February. Mechanic Bill Griffith works on a generator at Janney's Service Center in Toledo. Employees have been busy fixing snow-related devices since the start of February.
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After a hectic week of ice and blackouts, people in the Toledo area Thursday were bracing for a fresh round of heavy snowfall.

But not everyone was cursing his luck.

“Everybody else’s misery is our pleasure, if you will,” said Tim Janney, owner of Janney’s Service Center on Secor Road. “For us, this is like a windfall because if we don’t have any bad weather, we don’t have much business this time of year.”

Stores stocking storm supplies such as rock salt, snowblowers, and basic groceries said those items have been flying off the shelves this month. And with 7 to 13 inches of snow expected to fall between Thursday night and Friday, the buying trends continued Thursday.

Mr. Janney said his staff has been busy fixing snowblowers and selling rock salt and snow-related equipment since the bad weather began at the beginning of February. After the ice storm on Sunday and Monday that left thousands across the region without power, the store was swamped with requests for generators, repairs on generators, and chain saws for cutting trees that had fallen, Mr. Janney said. His generators were sold out Thursday, and he was scrambling to provide enough rock salt and other ice-melting products to meet demand, he said.

With more snow on the horizon, more people were bringing their snowblowers in for repair. Mr. Janney said he was expecting an “explosion” of repair requests after the snowfall. His staff tries to fix generators and snow throwers the same day, but it’s not always possible because some parts must be ordered, the owner explained.

“We can only turn so many out in a day,” Mr. Janney said. “We know in these situations everybody needs it Thursday, so we try real hard to accommodate them.”

Laura Fleeger-Koenig, owner of Fleeger’s Pro Hardware on South Byrne Road, said she’s been selling a great deal more snow-related products than in previous years.

Most people Thursday were looking to buy ice-melting material and the store was out of snowblowers, she said.

“This definitely is an unusual winter for us,” Ms. Fleeger-Koenig said. “I’m sure your back will tell you that when you’re shoveling snow.”

On the grocery supply side, Meijer and The Andersons, Inc., reported an upsurge in sales. Andersons spokesman Debbie Crow said stores were boosting their stocks of basic foods such as milk, eggs, and bread to meet demand.

A winter storm warning was in effect Thursday throughout northwest Ohio and into southeast Michigan. The National Weather Service in Cleveland was predicting as much as a foot of snow in some areas by the end of Friday.

The heavy snowfall could be exacerbated by high winds, meteorologist Kirk Lombardy said.

“We’re looking at winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour with gusts of up to 35,” he said. “That could cause a significant blowing and drifting of the snow and decreased visibility to near-zero at times.”

Rock salt and other materials for clearing away ice and snow have been flying off shelves this month. Rock salt and other materials for clearing away ice and snow have been flying off shelves this month.
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It was hard to compare the severity of the storm with the area’s previous bad weather, the meteorologist said.

“We know we’re going to get a lot of snow, but if the snow all falls at once and then the wind dies down quicker than expected, then it may not be as bad,” Mr. Lombardy said. “It’s really hard to measure.”

Many local authorities weren’t taking any chances. The city of Monroe declared a snow emergency beginning at 10 p.m. Thursday night and urged residents to remove parked vehicles from all roadways within the city’s limits. Consumers Energy reported 2,800 customers in Monroe County remained without power late Thursday and 7,400 in Lenawee County.

Toledo Edison reported 131 customers in Lucas County were without power Thursday night, including 101 in Toledo.

The city of Maumee put out a request for all residents to remove vehicles parked on city streets to allow easy passage for plowing crews.

A spokesman for the Lucas County sheriff’s department said a snow emergency declaration was expected, but the level would be determined once the storm arrived.

Maple Sugar Day festivities in Monroe were canceled. John Gibney, director of the Monroe County Historical Museums, said icy conditions on the grounds of the Navarre-Anderson Trading Post where the festivities are held and rising water on the River Raisin could cause problems in holding activities.

A Midwest Energy Cooperative representative said Thursday night about 300 customers were without power in Lenawee, Fulton, and Williams counties, including 160 in Adrian.

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at:
cbarrett@theblade.com
or 419-724-6272.



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