Blooming business: Some area companies benefit from drought

Aug. 6, 2012

There's no doubt, this summer's parched weeks and oven-like heat will go down in Wisconsin's weather record books.

But stacked against the local farmers who spent days looking to the sky in vain for relief are a few local businesses where the drought and heat grew better crops.

Tri-Town Heating and AC, W16496 Janesville Road, Muskego, for example, had a record number of calls for air conditioning help on July 6, a day where temperatures hovered around 100 degrees.

By the time its phone stopped ringing, 42 sweltering families had put in calls for help. During the heat spell, Tri-Town had been averaging 20 to 25 calls a day compared with a more normal 12 to 15, owner Sandy Hoormann said.

Wells going deeper

Well-driller Kenneth Sweeney of Kenneth Sweeney Well Drilling & Pump is based in Franklin, but he has been spending a lot of time in Muskego after the drought lowered the water table, making some wells go dry.

He usually replaces two or three wells a year in Muskego, but this year he's expecting to do 10. He's already drilled six.

Most wells are from the 1950s and would have been replaced anyway in 10 years, Sweeney said, "But the drought exacerbated the situation."

He's finding that a small per centage of shallow gravel wells are affected and those that he replaced, mostly sprinkled around the Fountainwood subdivision along Tess Corners Drive were 38- to 42-feet deep. New replacement wells in that area are 78 to 85 feet, Sweeney said.

But he didn't want to alarm well-owners.

"Ninety-nine percent are fine and have no problems," he said.

Even so, he said, "We're very busy," and drill a well every day. People also are calling more for service, because with the drought they are paying more attention to their wells and pumps.

Construction without delays

Marching right through the summer from not having to pause for rain-delays are construction firms like Estate Services Construction Co. of Muskego.

The company can get more jobs done and business is up, probably 10 percent, estimated Don Reidy, owner of the firm at S8445 Holz Drive.

"We don't turn away as much," he said.

As a concession to the heat, though, the workmen start at 4:30 or 5 a.m. as opposed to the normal 7 to 8 a.m. start time, Reidy said.

"The guys like it, they get off early," he said. And when the temperatures are really high, they try to do inside work, he said.

Area residents are finding their own ways to beat the heat and one of their solutions is to head for ice cream stands.

Over at Island Ice Cream in Muskego, where Kristin Formolo is in her first year operating a refreshment stand at Idle Isle, the higher the temps, the more business.

"Those 100-degree days, we were consistently busy," she said.

Indoor exercise boom

People also might be seeking to get their exercise indoors instead of in the blistering heat.

It has been busier than normal this summer at the Alpine Lanes bowling alley, W18700 Apollo Drive, Muskego, reported Lloyd McIndoe.

"When it's superhot like that, parents obviously don't let their kids run around outside," he said. The result has been a spike in families coming in, he said.

At the Princeton Club, 14999 W. Beloit Road, New Berlin, the scene looked more like a brisk March or April instead of the lolling days of summer, said Andrew Haugen, vice president and an owner. In a normal summer, members tend to jog outside.

"But we've seen them doing almost all their workouts in the club," Haugen said.

At Snap Fitness, W16853 Janesville Road, Muskego, sales of memberships, water and Gatorade are up, said Chad Roider, general manager and personal trainer.

"A lot of people like to run outdoors," he said, so they "freeze" their memberships for the summer, to return in fall. But this summer, they're in the gym working out, he said.

Similarly, some area restaurants have noticed a small uptick in business.

"Probably a 5 percent increase in business because of the heat," said Scott Acker, owner of the New Berlin Quaker Steak & Lube, 4900 S. Moorland Road, New Berlin.

"They've decided they're just not going to cook," he said.

The story's the same at Bel'Gustos, 3648 S. Moorland Road, New Berlin, a carryout and delivery restaurant.

"We always have an uptick in hot weather," owner Tom Linn said.


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