After learning that a tornado had ripped through Lake Township on the night of June 5, Mike McAlear, of Perrysburg Township, immediately jumped into his vehicle and headed straight to his company, Service Spring Corporation, at 4370 Moline-Martin Road in Millbury.
“I was listening to Skywarn, turned on a transceiver for Lake Township and heard they lost a building. Then I did the prudent thing and drove out there,” said McAlear, a ham operator.
McAlear, who’s never before experienced a tornado, saw emergency personnel aiding victims as he made his way to his company. One woman, he said, was already dead.
“I got there about 11:45. I saw total devastation. The Lake Township building was pretty much in a million pieces. My two neighbors lost their houses. The one gentleman was born in his house. It shakes you up,” said McAlear.
His company, which manufactures spring mechanisms, mostly for the overhead garage doors industry, sustained moderate damage to one of three facilities. The remaining two facilities, about 50 yards east of the site, were totally destroyed.
“I lost those buildings completely,” said McAlear. “We have estimated $1 million in property damage.”
The management staff quickly reorganized, and headed off-site to a location on Central Avenue to take orders, he said.
“We were taking orders by Monday because of the quick thinking of our management staff. They did extraordinarily well. Once the management team got together, we were taking orders within 30 hours. Our main facility probably had about 100 different penetrations of bricks through the top and sides of the building. But structurally, it was a sound building. Once we got the okay that the building was sound, we went in, cleaned up, and got moving right away.”
By Wednesday, with the utilities restored, the company started up production, he said.
“We were at 100 percent capacity,” he said. “I’m proud of my staff, the people who came together without a lot of direction from me, getting the plant up and running.”
Although he is thankful his company got back up on its feet quickly, he said it was psychologically draining to see the devastation to the area.
“When you go through this, people say `At least you have insurance.’ Well, insurance doesn’t cover everything. It covers the monetary part, but there’s other issues to deal with. All the uncertainty and chaos of the event you have to deal with yourself.”
For 46 years, Service Spring has been manufacturing springs and distributing hardware to garage door dealers, distributors and manufacturers throughout the world. The company has been at its present location since 1977, said McAlear.
There are currently 170 employees in the company.