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For some businesses, heat is too hot to handle

Published July 2, 2013 6:14 pm

Some companies struggle to meet customers' needs.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Business in Utah is hotter than ever — and not necessarily in a good way.

The state's record-breaking heat wave is overwhelming some businesses as they struggle to meet increased demand.

Don Weaver, owner of SameDay Heating & Air in Salt Lake City, said the sizzling weather puts his company in an odd position: More heat equals more money, but as temperatures continue to top 100 degrees, his workers can't keep pace with customers' needs.

"Our call volume tracks the weather fairly closely, unfortunately," Weaver said. "It's kind of a feast or famine type of business ... right now, we can't keep up with the calls."

Weaver said the company has about five or six people answering phones throughout the hottest summer days, while field technicians work between 12 and 15 hours per day. Still, they can't always help everyone in a timely fashion.

"We're like retailers a few days before Christmas," Weaver said. "We kind of have the same panics and if you're not careful, your staff can get irritable if they can't take care of customers. So, ironically, no one feels good about it, and yet at the end of the day, we're happy about it financially."

Some automotive repair companies also report being overwhelmed with customers.

"We're swamped," said Nancy Lambert, co-owner of Jerry Lambert Automotive in Salt Lake City.

"A.C., overheating, batteries — there's been a lot. In fact, I'm looking for more help to try to keep up. My waiting room hasn't been empty at all. There's probably been eight to 10 people in my waiting room every day for the past couple weeks."

Like the vehicles in Lambert's garage, Salt Lake City Golf is suffering from the heat, too.

Manager David Terry said the unprecedented temperatures — which hit a record-high of 105 degrees over the weekend — are causing a financial pinch.

"Obviously once it gets into triple digits, we generally do see a drop in play," Terry said. "And the public doesn't understand this, but we pay the same water rates that they do. We have a six-figure water budget at every one of our nine courses, and that budget gets strained. Obviously you've got to put water on grass when it gets over 100 degrees."

The hot streak has broken records throughout the state. For the first time ever, Salt Lake City hit 105 degrees in June, breaking the old record of 104, which was set in 1979. The high Monday at Salt Lake City International Airport was 104, breaking a record set in 1990.

And forecasts are predicting more of the same throughout the holiday week.

Meanwhile, in southern Utah, the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory until Wednesday evening as temperatures in the area are expected to hover between 110 and 115 degrees over the next few days.

Children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses were specifically warned to stay indoors, hopefully with air conditioning. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke were risks for anyone braving outdoor activity during the hottest parts of the day without frequent respites in shade and plentiful liquids.

While the heat advisory was in place for the hottest parts of the state, the remainder of Utah was put under a hazardous weather outlook over the next week due to the daytime heat. In addition, hot, dry winds and lightning from mountain thunderstorms posed a risk of potentially explosive wildfires.

One businessman who is embracing the hellish temperatures is Sean Myers of Provo-based High Country Adventure, which offers a number of recreational activities, from fly-fishing to horseback rides. He said he's seen a major boom in the number of people looking to float the Provo and Weber rivers this summer.

"We're almost 100 percent weather-driven," Myers said. "I remember a couple years ago when the weather was around 80 degrees at this time, we only had about 20 or so reservations for the Fourth. This Fourth of July, we're up around three or four hundred."







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