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Published: Friday, 7/12/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Area businesses weather ups and downs of soggy summer

Outdoor workers struggle; waterproofers in demand

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Christopher Chapinski helps hold down the tarp during a rain delay at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. Christopher Chapinski helps hold down the tarp during a rain delay at Fifth Third Field in Toledo.
BLADE/ANDY MORRISION Enlarge

The plants at Hatfield Lawn & Landscape’s garden center are flourishing.

The company’s irrigation business, not so much.

After a month and a half of above-normal rainfall across the area, an extra shot of water is the last thing most lawns need. The Sylvania Township landscaping firm has idled its crew that works on sprinkler systems while it tries to keep up with its mowing jobs.

“Any time there’s a window of opportunity, they’re in and out and trying to get as much done as they can before it rains again,” owner Torrie Hatfield said.

That’s something many who make their living outside can sympathize with.

Going into Thursday, the National Weather Service said Toledo had received measurable rainfall in 14 of the previous 15 days, and 22 out of the previous 40.

The weather service said 15 of those days had rain measuring a tenth of an inch or more, while seven rainfalls totaled at least a half-inch. Twice, on June 1 and June 12, the skies poured down more than an inch of rain.

Year-to-date, Toledo has had 20.9 inches of rain, about 4 inches ahead of normal. Mercifully, Thursday was dry.

“It’s been pretty tough. Trying to get lawns cut on any sort of a schedule has been rather difficult,” Ms. Hatfield said, though she added that most of their customers have been sympathetic to their circumstances.

If there’s been any saving grace in this spell of weather fit for a duck, it’s been that the rain has come in spurts.

“We usually will wait it out, and fortunately most of the stuff we’ve had hasn’t been all-day rain. It’s been a short blast here and a short blast there,” said Tom Curdes, owner of Barron’s Lawn Service in Springfield Township.

Mr. Curdes said by working between the storms and working Saturdays, he has been able to keep close to schedule. Many of the rains also have been after working hours, so while job sites might be wet, crews can still work.

Lowell Metzger, a spokesman for Rudolph/​Libbe, a large general contractor headquartered in Walbridge, said one of the biggest challenges for his company has been on projects that they’re trying to get “out of the ground” — that is, installing storm sewers, doing site grading, or building foundations.

The saturated ground just can’t take more rain, so any hole that’s dug has the potential to become a pond.

“That can have an effect, and we do have a project or two where the wet weather has held up those activities,” Mr. Metzger said.

It’s not just laborers who are struggling with the rain.

Greg Fish said all four of the Toledo golf courses he runs closed midday Monday because it was too wet for play.

Mr. Fish, chief executive officer of Master Golf Management Group, which owns South Toledo Golf Club and manages the three city-owned courses, said it’s been a rough stretch for the past couple of weeks, and he expects July sales to come in under last year.

“It’s business that’s pretty much gone,” he said. “You do have a little bit of pent-up demand that you’ll see all of a sudden, like today was pretty busy, but it’s not enough to pick up what you’ve lost in those closed days.”

It’s also difficult to do regular course maintenance when it’s this wet, he said.

The good news is that the forecast looks dry for the next few days.

“We can’t do anything about [the rain], so we might as well enjoy what’s coming up next,” Mr. Fish said.

The rain has not dampened everyone’s business, though.

Tom Elder, owner of Seagate Roofing and Foundation Services, said the waterproofing part of his business is now booked out for about six weeks, two weeks longer than usual.

“We’re get enormous numbers of calls because basements are wet that have never been wet before,” he said. “There’s days we’ll set 50 appointments.”

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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