Storm Disaster Response

Mother nature has many sides; she provides us with beautiful days to enjoy the weather but can also throw dangerous storms our way leaving a mess in her wake.

Sometimes the damage is extensive and impacts more than just our personal homes and lives; it can put a halt to our way of life, our businesses. Little thought is given to the affects on business by these storms and the amount of loss endured and the time to recover, rebuild and reopen.

After Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in October 2012, many businesses were left to pick up the pieces. As most of the country left the disaster in the history books, businesses were reporting losses and filing insurance claims. Restaurants not only lost equipment, but some lost up to $250,000 in food that spoiled with no electricity. Businesses were closed for weeks and months as they tried to assess the damage and rebuild.

Frank Pfisterer, owner of Shore Restaurant Supply and dealer for Imperial Brown, worked tirelessly to assess damage for insurance companies and help replace walk-in coolers along the Jersey Shore, while continuing his work with clients in NY who were unaffected by the storm and conducting business as usual.

Pfisterer recounts a few clients that he helped rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, at the time the second costliest hurricane in US history. He credits the Salisbury, NC plant with, making “the customers super happy.” Phisterer continued, “they would be able to ship coolers within weeks.

Some of those were complicated boxes with special heights and sizes.” Northeast Territory Regional Manager for Imperial Brown, Joseph Varaksa explained how the company worked with the owners of the damaged businesses. “From the factory floor guy to the accounting department, the factory did what needed to be done to help Frank get those folks back up and running.” At Imperial Brown they were determined to help those affected by the storm. They went to the archives to find engineering drawings to be able to rebuild some of the units.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, Pfisterer recalls he had just finished three projects. “Three weeks later, they were under seven feet of water. A husband and wife had just opened a gourmet burger place. They put all their life savings into the restaurant on the shore. An entire building, 30 feet long, was lifted up, floated a quarter of a mile, went behind their restaurant and crushed their walk-in units. It just pancaked them. They were squashed like tinfoil.”

He recalls big freezer boxes floating out to sea. A restaurant in Point Pleasant Beach had more than 10 walk-ins in the basement which were flooded with not only seawater, but sand and toxins. “It was toxic soup with paints and chemicals in that water,” Pfisterer said. In other basement storage areas, floor-to-ceiling walk-ins filled with seven feet of sand. “The storm blew walls out of basements. We had to excavate the site first and shovel in, like tunnels. We didn’t have electricity or water. I did most of my work with a flashlight and a head lamp.” Pfisterer looks back on that year with renewed respect for Imperial Brown. “It’s a family-run company. If you have any problems, I know that my problems are their problems,” Pfisiter said.

In times of need we discover the worth of a company. Imperial Brown showed they are there for their customers not just at time of order, but in times of need, so they can reopen their businesses and get back to normal.