By Lauren Wanko
Electrician Eric Sinka is busier then ever before servicing generators that kicked into overdrive during Superstorm Sandy.
“Unfortunately every time there is some sort of natural disaster that creates power outages, the electricians the electrical industry benefit,” said Sinka, senior service technician for Mr. Electric. “For us it kind of is a stimulus package.”
Since Sandy the number of generator service calls has tripled at Mr. Electric of Hunterdon County and the number of orders has reached an all-time high.
“We have at least twice the amount of generators ordered or being ordered for install as of last year,” Sinka said.
Statewide, electricians say business is booming. Mike Chambers’ Oakhurst Electric serves Monmouth and Ocean counties. They’ve been in business for 20 years and have never seen this much demand. Farther north in Glen Rock, Albright Electric still gets five calls a day on generator estimates.
“I think people have just kind of reached a breaking point,” Sinka said.
Pittstown Resident John Thonet decided to buy a generator after losing power for a combined week and half between both Tropical Storm Irene and the October Snowstorm. It’s a decision he’s doesn’t regret. Sandy knocked out power for 11 days in Thonet’s neighborhood.
“If you do the math at one and a half weeks each year for two years that means this neighborhood’s been without power for 3 percent of the time and while that may be OK in a third world nation, it’s not anything we’re used to here in New Jersey,” Thonet said.
But not everyone had the foresight to buy a generator before the storm. Mr. Electric owner Ernie Fletcher says the company was flooded with 100 calls a day for an entire week after Sandy. And prior to the storm, they prepared for the worst.
“Because of what happened last year we always stock at least a dozen hookups in our shop now,” Fletcher said. “We went through those dozen the weekend before the storm.”
Once Sandy hit, Fletcher and his team drove to his supplier Cooper Electric in Flemington. And for the first day or so after the storm, they were able to purchase all the generators and parts their customers needed , but soon after that, the supplier ran out of supplies.
“We doubled our inventory on those particular items that acontractor would use, but it still wasn’t enough,” said Cooper Electric Branch Manager Jim Stephens.
Supplies are back in stock but Mr. Electric insists Sandy will boost generator sales long-term. After three big storms, residents are realizing what used to be a rare act of Mother Nature now seems a lot more routine.