Blizzard pounds New England electrical businesses

The blizzard that dumped up to 3 feet of snow on some areas of the Northeast the weekend of Jan. 22 wreaked havoc for New England distributors, reps and their customers.

Granite City Electric, Quincy, Mass., with 19 locations throughout New England, was hit hard by the storm. Looking out his window at a 10-foot snowbank, Steve Helle, company president, said the blizzard dropped 2 feet of snow or more on half of the company's locations.

The Cape Cod area was hit hard. “I have four stores down in and around the Cape,” said Helle. “They just got crushed; I mean there's no place to put 36 inches of snow.”

Two days after the storm, Helle said his stores on Cape Cod were open, but that employees were selling “two rolls of tape and maybe a light bulb.”

“People can't get to the stores, and our delivery trucks are struggling to get to job sites, which are also snowed in,” he said. “It's definitely going to affect our business. There's been emergency business, but the problem with emergency business is even that can be limited. People can't get here.”

At Northeast Electrical/Eagle Electric, Canton, Mass., Sonepar's New England operation, five dedicated employees used their four-wheel-drive vehicles to drive to the company's central distribution center during the storm on Jan. 23. “They prepared ‘time-committed’ orders promised to contractors at a certain time,” said Carl Brand, president, Northeast Electrical/Eagle Electric. “They pulled those orders and we were able to deliver those on Monday morning.”

Tom Punch, Electra Spec Inc., a manufacturers' rep in Norton, Mass., said his business got about 2 feet of snow from the storm. Punch said his employees were able to get to work on Jan. 24, but that business was very slow. He said most distributors in the area were open on Jan. 24.

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