"Due to significant damage caused by hurricane Sandy to the Henry Repeating Arms plant in Bayonne, N.J., we do not have electricity, telephone or email service. We are hoping that we will once again be operational by the week of Nov. 12. We apologize for the inconvenience."
That's the message on Henry Repeating Arms' website [henryrepeating.com] – one of a few mid-sized hunting and fishing gear manufacturers based in New Jersey – and it tells you everything you need to know about trying to operate a business after a hurricane.
In business, expenses never stop but revenue can, and that's the situation in much of New Jersey.
MegaStrike Fishing Products, the state's biggest freshwater fishing tackle manufacturer, is in Freehold, a town decimated by flooding brought on by Hurricane Irene last year and this time hit hard by Sandy's winds. Company president Bobby Uhrig sees the latest blow to his state and business this way:
"Of course we're in a down economy, but actually as of August last year we had a recuperating fishing economy," he said. "ICAST [the fishing tackle trade show held every July] said this year was the best show in 10 years, and I agree with that. I thought it was an incredible success.
"We had a very good ICAST – a lot of people are looking for new, innovative products – and by Aug. 1 we'd already doubled last year's business. So we were up and running, trying to fulfill orders for everybody, and all of a sudden this storm comes. It wipes out all of New Jersey, and a lot of Long Island, Connecticut and New York.
"It's total devastation here. It looks like a nuclear bomb hit. No power, no gas, no electric, no hot water, two-mile-long lines for gasoline. So the last thing on anybody's mind around here is fishing – or even getting back to work because their houses and lives are in shambles."
Sandy "put the fishing industry on hold here. It's a huge bass fishing and saltwater market, and it's striper season right now but no one is doing anything. All of the marinas that had boats were devastated."
In terms of his facility, he said: "We didn't really get [much damage] at work, but our computers and everything electric – like our filling machines and molding machines – were shut down for seven days."
Even if he could fulfill orders during that time, "a lot of [retail] business in New Jersey and New York are done. They're crushed, orders are canceled."
Even so, Uhrig said he feels fortunate and has been truly blown away by the support he and his company have gotten. "I can't tell you how many emails and calls I've gotten, people asking, 'Bobby are you alright. Whatever you need, we'll do whatever we need to do to get you back up and running.'
"The outpouring of help was phenomenal. Even fishermen from all over the country who use our products are asking if we're OK. I even had these guys from Long Island who said, 'We will come to your house, we'll do whatever it takes, remove trees, whatever, if you need it.'"
Uhrig gets fired up when he talks about that support. "We're America, we're New Jersey, we're resilient – we'll do whatever it takes to help our neighbors. The most important thing was helping our families and neighbors clean up. There's so much devastation here, you can't wait for a cleanup crew or tree service to come. So what you do is get your hands dirty and do it."
MegaStrike [megastrike.com] is now back up and running, and Uhrig said he received a bunch of orders from European customers explicitly to help kick-start his business. "It was tough, but we're getting orders out right now," he said.