After a four-alarm electrical fire destroyed the long-standing Krell Lighting & Electrical Supplies warehouse and showroom on Park Avenue in Park Ridge, NJ, last month, store owners are picking up the pieces and pushing forward.
The 38-year old family business is now operating out of a remote warehouse on Hawthorne Avenue, down the road from its original location. Phone and fax lines have been transferred, and the downsized staff is doing business the old-fashioned way with pencils and paper, working on folding chairs at plastic banquet tables.
“We’re trying to get our life back together,” co-owner Stuart Mason told Residential Lighting in an phone interview. “It was a total loss.”
Mason owns the business along with his brother David. It specializes in high-end home controls and lighting design for an affluent clientele.
The blaze, which was reported on the evening of March 29, gutted the three-story building, which was more than 110 years old and constructed internally mostly out of wood. The electrical fire was believed to have been sparked by a window fan, says Mason.
The building was empty when the fire started and no one was hurt. However, what was not lost to fire was destroyed either by smoke or water. Six fire departments from two states fought the blaze, which required more than 1 million gallons of water.
In addition to struggling to fulfill orders as best they can and work with vendors, the store is working diligently with the insurance company to settle its claim. “The short-term plan is to keep servicing all the customers that we can and keep as many as my trained, qualified long-term employees as I can for as long as I can,” says Mason. “Long-term plans are out of my hands at this moment.”
He adds that, ideally, they would try to reopen a new showroom and warehouse at the original location.
The business had to let go some members of its staff due to insurance mandates. “I was only allowed to keep what I classified as 'key employees,'” Mason says. All salespeople were retained, however.
Despite the current struggles, the showroom's staff is committed to recovering what they lost and starting over. “We were a family-run and -operated business for 38 years and we will be back one way or the other,” Mason says.