Company News

Update: Sweeney, Simon, Ethan Allen Assess Storm Damage

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Employees of Sweeney Buick GMC crowded into the showroom of Sweeney Chevrolet this morning with business operations at both dealerships temporarily shut down following the severe storm that blew off the roof of the Buick dealer’s service department across the street and collapsed one wall.

Where the wall fell was a two-floor section of the Buick building, 8019 Market St, and as it collapsed it took with it the dealership’s IT operations that also powered the telephones and internet at Sweeney’s Chevrolet store, 7997 Market St.

At 9 a.m. there was no phone service at either showroom, no internet connection and about the only business that could be conducted was receiving a shipment of Chevrolet Equinoxes and conversing with co-workers about the powerful storm.

“Thank God it happened on Sunday,” one employee told another.

“Yup. That’s the best part of this.”

A few of the IT employees decided to walk across the street in hopes of powering up generators to reconnect the phones and Internet. Meanwhile all Sweeney managers were huddled at the Chevrolet dealership discussing how to resume operations and deal with all the damage.

IT operations for both dealerships were housed on the second floor of the section of the building that collapsed.

Across the street, workers from Boak & Sons, Austintown, could be seen attempting to cover the hole in the Buick dealership’s roof while workers from DeSalvo Construction Co., Hubbard, were beginning to clear away the rubble.

There was no sign that the storm, apparently a micro burst with winds up to 70 mph, left twisted rubble, which if it had would have indicated tornadic rotation.

At least two customers of Sweeney Buick’s service division seemed to be unaware of the storm damage and could be heard telling DeSalvo’s workers that they were there for their scheduled service appointments.

By 10:30 this morning, the phones and internet were back up and Sweeney Buick GMC customers were being served at the company’s Chevrolet store.

“We are fully staffed in sales and service and Chevrolet  has given us their blessings to operate Buick and GMC both out of the Chevy building,” said Alexa Sweeney Blackann, vice president.

Blackann and her father, company president Doug Sweeney, were  notified of the storm damage by “our alarm company,” she said. “So my dad and I came down and were shocked by the amount of damage that took place. We called 9-1-1 and the fire department came immediately. They did a wonderful job.”

So, too, did DeSalvo Construction, Blackann noted, which was on the scene last night “to mitigate further damage and secure the building.”

The vehicle inventory was “mostly spared,” she added, but most important, so were the dealership’s staff and its customers.

“We are really grateful this occurred on a Sunday night. This would have been a really different story if we had been open and the storm came without any warning,” Blackann said.

The Buick dealership sits on the corner of Market Street and Karago Avenue, where at least one other business, Simon Roofing Co., 70 Karago Ave., suffered storm damage.

Portions of the siding on the east sides of two of Simon’s buildings were ripped off and there also appeared to be some damage to the company’s roof. But the company was operating with no apparent interruption in business as workmen assessed the damage and began to make repairs.

The Ethan Allen store at 8040 Market St. also suffered some damage but it was limited to windows, one side of the building and the roof. Said Rick Galloway of Calloway Construction, as he cleared some of the rubble, “It’s minor.”

The same, of course, could not be said at Sweeney Buick GMC, where the structural damage is substantial.

The Sweeney dealerships employ 200 full- and part-time workers.

“We’re here. We’re open. We’re taking care of customers the best we can,” Blackann said. “Customer service is our first priority.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.