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David Minton - DRC

Winter weather helps niche businesses

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan / Staff Writer
By Jenna Duncan / Staff Writer

As sleet, ice and snow descended on Denton this winter season, several businesses have been able to meet the increased demand for weather-related services.

“This winter, total, business has probably tripled,” said Jarret Edman, owner of A Plus Towing in Denton.

Edman has been able to rescue stranded vehicles that have spun out, rolled over or had collisions because he has a tow truck with four-wheel drive that is equipped to drive in the ice and snow — an advantage over some of his competition, he said. This season, he’s even handled calls from other companies that couldn’t meet their own demand.

“We usually get one week in the winter when we get some sort of ice or snow precipitation, and we are normally busy the night of the snow and ice, and the next day to clean up the rest of the vehicles,” he said. “This winter, we’ve been having several days in a row of towing and pulling out these vehicles and the ice seems to be lasting longer on the ground.”

Edman deals primarily with insurance companies for jobs, and his responsiveness this season has helped him build stronger relationships with the companies that will continue to benefit the business even after the weather passes, he said.

“It will help us for the rest of the year, since we were able to handle things when no one else was able to get them,” he said.

The unusual winter weather has helped some niche businesses throughout the community, a contrast to many businesses that had to shut their doors during bad weather and lost business.

For plumbers, business hasn’t been this busy since the major ice storm in 2011, said Mary Britton, co-owner of AM Plumbing in Denton. The changes of temperature have also brought in a lot of business.

“Last week, for example, we had 80-degree weather on a Saturday, so everyone was outside doing stuff like watering plants and washing their cars, and didn’t take into consideration it would be in the 20s on Monday,” she said. “This last week, we’ve been inundated with frozen, busted hose bits from ... getting ready for spring and forgetting it’s still winter.”

Problems have also persisted with indoor plumbing as well this winter, she said. As people try to save electricity in freezing temperatures, it contributes to freezing pipes. Keeping cabinets with exposed plumbing open and having the heat in the upper 70s is the best solution, Britton said.

“People are trying to save money and keep it as comfortable as they can at the lower level,” she said. “But if they turn their heat up, it would help with the cost of their plumbing.”

Even without major advertising — AM Plumbing is only listed in one phone book — they have still had more business this season than they can handle. A company policy is for plumbers to work to live, not live to work, so Britton has referred numerous jobs out to other companies in the area.

“We take as much as we can take and leave a little room for emergencies, but we have a cut-off period and have to tell people we can’t help,” she said.

“We have kept four companies going with our phone referrals alone,” she added with a laugh.

For Calvert Automotive, Inc., this weather has forced them to close the business a few times, but they have noticed an increase in business in the days after the storm hits.

“After, we would have an upswing of dead batteries, and people who hadn’t fixed their heaters but decided not to go without it this season,” said Dian Miller, director of the business.

Other auto-related businesses have felt the negative impact from the weather though, like Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting. While they only closed one day in December, business has been slower than normal this winter, said manager Adam Reubin.

“It’s been a distraction in our business,” he said. “Some cars are trickling in, but not what you would expect.”

With the cold, some potential customers could be putting off minor repairs that aren’t insurance claims, Reubin said, but he isn’t sure if the slower winter will correlate to more business this spring.

For others, the spring will be a welcome break.

“This winter is not like when we had that seven-day hard freeze two years ago — that one was a lot worse,” Britton said. “But this winter has been really bad, and we’re ready for spring. You’ve got to rest the horses, and our guys need a break.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.