Soggy June a challenge for many businesses

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Bad weather has been raining on Columbus’ summertime parade.

Columbus has seen 5.84 inches of rain this month, compared with 3.75 inches in the same period last year, according to National Weather Service data. On Wednesday, Columbus broke its rainfall record for that date with 2.65 inches of rain. The record had been 1.94 inches in 1973.

The relentless rain and flooding has left some businesses in limbo.

If you’re a builder, a paver, a roofer or a landscaper, or you run a canoe livery, the rain totals might have brought your business to a halt.

Custom-home builder Homewood Development is about three months behind on work on average, said Jim Lipnos, president of Homewood Corporate. In some cases, he said, projects are seven months behind. He’s 25% behind in development revenue compared with other years.

“I have a development that should have been paved October last year,” Lipnos said.

On the construction side, he said, rain affects landscaping, framing and roofing. Houses are taking around 10 months to build compared with the usual seven. Homewood usually has 100 to 150 closings each year, but this year, it will be about 25 short, he said.

”We’ll probably end up going into 2020 with a backlog of sales because we will have to wait to pour the foundation,” Lipnos said. “While that sounds like a good thing, it’s bad for the trades because we don’t get a consistent load of work, and we end up having to lay guys off, and they tend to not come back to the same job.”

Concrete company Gaddis & Son Inc. has seen a similar loss, saying that it is about one month behind schedule, President Randal Gaddis said.

“It’s challenging, to say the least,” Gaddis said.

Gaddis hasn’t laid anyone off because of the rain, but employees are earning less because most are unable to work a full week if it rains, he said.

“You have to constantly gauge the weather to see the impact,” Gaddis said.

It’s too early to tell whether rain has slowed roadwork on major highways such as Interstate 71, said Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning.

“This is thankfully relatively rare that we have a widespread flood. We’ve seen every region of the state have roads that are closed due to flooding,” Bruning said.

Trapper John’s Canoe Livery in southwestern Franklin Countyhas been able to open for only a few days this month, and business has been slow then, owner Jason Kaufman said.

“Thankfully we got Memorial Weekend in and are keeping our head above water,” Kaufman said. “But we haven’t been able to open.”

He has had to call off reservations made by summer-school groups and camps. At this time of year, such clients make up a large part of the business, he said.

Big Darby Creek is safe when it is its usual 4 feet deep. During June, it has been 6 to 10 feet deep. Even after a storm, the water level takes a few days to drop back to normal.

“If I’m not open, I’m not making money,” Kaufman said. “I have a lot of young kids that work for me that are out of high school that rely on me to make money, and they’re not getting paid, either. I feel for my employees over anything.”

Kaufman is hopeful. He has been in the canoe business for almost 30 years and said flooding in June can help the water level stay high in late July, when it is usually extremely shallow.

In contrast, business is booming for Jeremy Chapman. The owner of Chapman Drainage and Basement Repair said he has more jobs than he can handle, enjoying an 80% jump in business.

The most common customer calls he is receiving involve flooded basements, mold and leaks. He said he sees a spike in business every time a storm system rolls through the area.

“People need to take preventative measures,” Chapman said. “If they have a drainage problem or a basement problem, they need to address them before it gets busy. If they wait until it’s a major issue, it’s probably too late.”

Chapman has been so busy that he has had to shrink his service area to just Franklin County and the Columbus suburbs outside it, he said. There’s a waiting list now, too.

“We can pump out the basement immediately, but for long-term corrective action, you’re looking at” a weeks-long wait, Chapman said.

Bob Gardner, president of custom-home builder Coppertree Homes, said rain is just something he has to work through every year. He’s not behind on construction, he said.

“We’re on schedule,” Gardner said. “The rain lengthens the time that you get things, but if you’re smart, you work through it. It’s just homebuilding in central Ohio.”

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