Hurricane Florence arrived at the Carolina coast yesterday, September 13th. Forecasters predict that the life-threatening storm will continue to bring with it catastrophic flooding, high winds up to 120 miles per hour, and towering waves, resulting in extensive damage to those on or near the shoreline and a massive power outage for up to three million people.
In its projected path of destruction lie dozens of businesses in the personalization industry. A&E reached out to a handful of those on the front lines to hear how they’re preparing and to understand its impact so far.
“Business has very much been affected by the storm this week, and it (hasn’t hit yet),” says Ron Wight of Coastal Engraving in Wilmington, North Carolina. In addition to several large orders of awards being cancelled due to events that were scheduled for the weekend, “Business has been way off this week as people prepare and flee the storm. We have used this time to get as many commitments fulfilled as we have no idea what damage we will suffer or how long we will be without power,” he says, adding, “Computer files are backed up off-site and machines are covered. We’re praying for safety and minimal damage (or) business disruption.” Wight speculates that the shop has lost a week’s worth of business so far.
Kristin Cambron of Studio One Awards & Engraving on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina has a similar experience. "Hurricane season has affected our business for three years in a row," she says. "Due to the location of our store, we are closed for the week and will hopefully open up on Monday." As of Friday (September 14th) morning, Cambron informs that her shop has not sustained any major damage; however, "the evacuation order of the county has had a definite effect on our business and our clients."
Sean Mahoney, president of Suburban Custom Awards & Engraving in Atlanta, Georgia, also reports his business has steered clear of any impact so far. “I expect that we may have some heavy winds (50 mph) and rain by Saturday but nothing too extraordinary. It is those closer to the coast, such as Savannah, that will be affected.”
“We are fortunate that the major suppliers such as Marco Awards Group and JDS Industries are located here, and we do not anticipate major supply issues,” Mahoney adds.
JDS Industries is however keeping a close eye on Hurricane Florence; it has locations in both Charlotte and Atlanta. Mike May, chief operations officer, says, “We are watching the storm’s progression closely and we feel that our operations will not be impacted.”
This is an ongoing event. A&E will continue to report on this story with details from voices around the industry as we receive more information.
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