Industry Battles Back After Hurricane Sandy
Posted Jan 27, 2013 in Industry News
Master-Touch Dental, Valplast Rebuild
Two days after Hurricane Sandy, the first thing Justin Marks found when he opened the door to his laboratory was a box of teeth that had floated there from the opposite side of the building. "I knew then, before I even stepped inside, that things were going to be bad," he explains. "And they were."
Marks, Owner and Lead Technician at three-person Master-Touch Dental Laboratories, rode out the storm at a friend's apartment while his lab in Oceanside, NY—located in a mandatory evacuation zone—battled the elements. The storm surge, combined with high tide and a full moon, brought two-and-a-half feet of water into the lab, and the sandbags Marks had placed in front of the doors were no match for the flood waters. Supplies were wiped off shelves. Benches and suction units on the floor were destroyed. Luckily, most of the equipment had been placed on countertops and was undamaged.
Since the building was damaged and had no power—it wouldn't return for three weeks—Master-Touch found a temporary home in the tiny kitchen in Marks' apartment in Queens and, due to a lack of space, Marks was forced to lay-off his staff. He is now the only technician, working 12-15 hour days while also trying to keep up with office work and insurance paperwork. The good news is that the work is still coming in, but that's also the difficult part. "People have been understanding, but it is business and my clients need their cases," he says. "Trying to keep the business going and our clients happy is the hardest part."
Part of the reason the lab was able to bounce back so quickly was the help Marks received from Nowak Dental Supply. Immediately after the storm hit, Owner Shawn Nowak contacted Marks via Facebook and was able to find him discounted rates on Heraeus Kulzer teeth and a new tooth cabinet. "Nowak was affected by Katrina in 2005, so the Nowak family knew what it felt like," says Marks. "But it's the kind of company that would've helped no matter what."
Master-Touch Dental shared its building with Valplast International, whose President, Peter Nagy, is Marks' uncle. When people were allowed back in the building, Nagy also found out first-hand just how much damage sea water can do. The flooding destroyed everything up to 30 inches off the floor, moved furniture and knocked shelves to the ground in the 11,000-sq-ft facility. "We thought we were prepared for it, but we weren't expecting this," Nagy admits.
After three weeks of cleaning and salvaging, Valplast was able to preserve most of its inventory but between merchandise, equipment, marketing materials and furniture, the damage totaled about $2.5 million.
The company temporarily moved its administrative headquarters to Nagy's home and was forced to lay off 21 of its 28 employees. The potential for contamination was too high to return to the old facility and, luckily, the landlord released Valplast from its long-term lease. The company found a new site in Westbury, NY—still on Long Island but on higher ground—that it will once again share with Master-Touch Dental Laboratories. Both businesses should be up and running by late January.
The emotional damage, though, may take longer to heal. Nagy admits it was agonizing to see the destruction. "My dad started this business in the '50s and it was painful to see his experiments tumbled on the floor and ending up in dumpsters," he says. "But like our products say, 'Flexibility is our strength!' And that's what we're living by right now."
As for Master-Touch, Marks hopes to be able to hire his technicians back after the new location is up and running. "The first few days were very emotional and I was stressed about the lab throughout the whole ordeal," he says. "But we're a third-generation lab and we're not going anywhere."
Lanmark360, Darby Dental Step Up to 'Shave the Shore™'
LANMARK360's "Shave the Shore" campaign—launched to raise money for families on the Jersey Shore affected by Hurricane Sandy in October—has raised more than $20,000. The campaign was named by Lanmark360 President, Howard Klein, Owner of the West Long Branch, NJ ad agency, who pledged not to shave until he raised at least $10,000 to help hurricane victims.
He finally shaved at the beginning of December, with the majority of the donations coming from members of the dental industry. "The amount of support we received from our friends and colleagues has been nothing short of amazing," says Klein.
One of the companies that stepped up to the plate was Darby Dental Supply which pledged to donate $5,000 once Lanmark360 raised $15,000. "Hurricane Sandy has affected so many of our friends, family and partners so we, too, have taken this blow very personally," says Michael Bocian, Darby's Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "Once we saw the effort that Lanmark360 was putting forth, we knew we couldn't sit back and just hope that everything would work out."
To donate, visit www.shavetheshore.com; all proceeds go to the American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts.
Henry Schein to Donate More than $1 Million to Relief Efforts
HENRY SCHEIN, INC., its supplier partners and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation have committed to donating more than $1 million in essential healthcare supplies and cash to local relief organizations and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The company has also established the Henry Schein Hurricane Relief Fund through the Henry Schein Cares Foundation for those who wish to contribute; visit www.hscaresfoundation.org, click the "donate" button, and select "Hurricane Relief Fund."
In other relief efforts, the company is also holding food and clothing drives; offering a disaster relief hotline for dental customers (800-999-9729 from 7am to 7pm EST) and financial services such as extended credit terms; and planning a series of symposiums on insurance recovery, preparing the insurance claim, FEMA assistance and more.
Details for the symposiums are being finalized; watch LMT or www.LMTmag.com for information.
LMT Becomes Donation Center for Hurricane Sandy Relief
After witnessing the destruction to the tri-state area caused by Superstorm Sandy, LMT Sales and Events Manager Jessica Fila set up a donation center in the LMT lounge and posted an announcement on a local news website. Within days, our 750-sq-ft lounge was packed with clothing and other items from almost 50 local Connecticut residents.
When our local weekly newspaper heard about the center, it ran the story and Jessica's effort—along with LMT—became news. Over the next several weekends, Jessica and Jenny Abbott-Cole, LMT's Sales and Events Coordinator, along with other volunteers, made multiple runs to Staten Island and Brooklyn, NY to neighborhoods affected by the storm.
Donations continued to pour in even after we officially closed the drive. "I am amazed by how responsive people are to this important cause," says Fila. If you would like to donate supplies to those in need, post your offers on LMT's Helping Hands group page on The Bridge at www.lmtmag.com or donate to the other efforts mentioned in this section.
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