Cohoes company crippled by fire making foam again
Shelter Enterprises in Cohoes has reached a major milestone. Weeks after a fire ripped through the building, the company started making some styrofoam products again. Our Megan Cruz has more on recovery efforts.
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COHOES, N.Y. -- "In this process here, we hit it with steam and the steam makes it grow into the beads."
Jeffroy Meyers describes the process of making styrofoam. Wednesday is the first time it's being made at Shelter Enterprises, Inc. since September 20th's early morning fire.
"The first baby step in a long line of large steps," said Meyers, who is the founder and owner of SEI. He says most of the company's machinery was destroyed last month, when its 60,000 square foot manufacturing wing went up in flames.
"It's like having a heart attack," said Meyers. "Everything just stopped. So what we had to do was start over from the beginning."
Meyers says replacing all the equipment and rebuilding the three-story wing will cost close to $3 million. He's hoping to have a new building by the spring, and that this delay won't cost him his customers. So far though, so good.
"Their outpouring of concern has been tremendous. We have customers calling us almost daily to see how we're doing," he said.
As for his employees, only about 20 of 40 are back on the job, one of which is SEI Director Joe Halek.
Halek says SEI is family operation.
"Jeff's been here around the clock, seven days a week with crews getting equipment running, getting everything in here, the site cleaned up so we can get as many people back here as soon as possible," said Halek.
"My desire is to have everybody back in, and a few more after that."
Cohoes Fire Chief Joseph Fahd says because of the extent of the damage, they likely won't ever know what caused the September fire. Meyers says one thing is for sure though - that it ignited their determination to see SEI whole again.
"We just trudge forward everyday," said Meyers. "Try to take two steps forward everyday and not too many backwards."
The new foam-making machine will have to run 24/7 as compared to the old machine's eight-hour shift to produce just 3/4 of what the company used to churn out prior to the fire.