Hurricane Ike, the third-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, blew into the Houston area in September 2008, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. Bear Creek Collision Specialists, Inc., a family-owned shop located in Houston, was hit particularly hard: eight repair bays were totally demolished, and walls of the structure crashed down on various cars, totaling several of them, according to Trey Perdue, shop manager.
Trey says that after the Category 4 storm, it appeared it might be months before work resumed, if at all. Total damage to the facility, located on a 3-acre lot along with towing services, was around $750,000.
“It just kind of shocked me,” Trey said of his initial reaction to the damage caused by the hurricane to the shop his father George founded in 1978. “We were located in one of the harder-hit areas of town. My first thought was, ‘Where do I even start?’”
Trey said the first thing he did was purchase five generators to supply electricity during a two-week power outage. He had the shop up and running again two days after the storm.
|At a glance: Bear Creek Collision Specialists, Inc.
Year founded: 1978
Facility size: located on 3 acres
DRPs: 3 insurers, several fleet accounts
Towing: fleet of 12 trucks
Number of work bays: 12
Number of employees: 45
“I had them spidered throughout the facility to get the phone, Internet and computers working again,” he said. “There was a lot of exhaust smell from the generators, a lot of noise in the shop.”
Trey said the family had considered remodeling the repair facility, housed in a former gas station, before the storm hit.
“It had served its time,” he said. “The hurricane basically sealed the deal, if you know what I mean.”
The family was
required to demolish and reengineer Bear Creek’s former
office to bring it up to current wind
codes. Bear Creek also added other facilities, including a glass company, truck accessory shop, locksmith and expanded mechanical department in an “auto mall” layout that will include tenant businesses to provide some of the services, Trey said.
During the remodel, the body shop’s 12 work bays were expanded in size, and the shop has partnered with Hertz to provide on-site rental service.
The rebuilding process also incorporated numerous “green” elements, including solar paneling to subsidize electricity use, waterborne paint for all vehicles and an in-ground water skimmer that captures all soapy water before it enters the eco-system. In addition, Bear Creek Collision Specialists plans to have a local company plant trees to offset its carbon footprint.
“We’re extremely proud of our rebuilt facility, which addresses so many important concerns, from the newest technologies, to cost-effective design, better customer service and an environmentally friendly approach,” said Cheryl Perdue, president of Bear Creek Collision Specialists. “Customer response, as you might guess, has been very, very positive. We are very enthusiastic about serving the area and being a viable part of the community.”
In all, the renovation costs totaled about $1.5 million and took about a year to complete. Trey says the new office building should open later this month. The process has been a long one for Bear Creek, and he’s relieved it’s coming to an end.
“I’ll never do it again,” he joked.
To contact Bear Creek Collision Specialists, call (281) 550-2800.