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A&E Exclusive: SoCal Wildfires Impacting the Industry

An inside look at how the industry is facing challenges posed by the Southern California wildfires.

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SoCal wildfires

As wildfires continue to rage across Southern California and thousands of residents flee their homes, some awards and engraving retailers, suppliers, and manufacturers are confronted with devastating consequences that impact their business. Between power outages, evacuations, reduced staff, and hazardous air quality, many are having to shut down operations.

Mayra Barboza, marketing coordinator for Topmost World, notes that the fires have created a dangerous environment for deliveries in the surrounding areas causing shipping delays. She explains, “Business closures meant that we missed out on orders this holiday season, and in an industry where deadlines are crucial, especially for local businesses who expect their order to be delivered next-day, these delays were not good.”

PDU CAT Sales Director Bill Vitto warns, “It may take months, even years, until the (California) economy starts to rejuvenate. Retailers and consumers have been hit hard by the impact of the fire as they try to rebuild their homes and lives.”

Luckily, a number of industry names have reported themselves as not having been physically affected. Among such is Eagles Mark. Owner Bob Hagel tells A&E, “We’ve had poor air quality here, particularly from the Thomas Fire, which is the big fire just north of us. The amount of smoke in the entire Southern California area is higher than normal (to the point where) they’ve had to close schools for a day because of it. It’s fairly distracting.”

Despite this, Hagel stays positive. “In our area, we have the marine base right behind us and a lot of naval and air force bases nearby. In the valley we live in, there are 40,000 military families. So, there is a lot of respect and appreciation for them; and in turn, that has spread over into police and fire,” he says, explaining, “When we see fires like this, we do see an increase in recognition of them, either by organizations, or I’ve had people request plaques for firefighters that helped save their home or spent a lot of time in their neighborhood making sure they didn’t get hit.” 

American Acrylic has also confirmed its safety. “Fortunately, we are a good distance away from all the wildfires, and didn’t have so much as darkened skies,” writes Richard Fu, operations director.

Also safe, Denise DeMoss of the JRS Co. says, “All three fires are several hours away from us. We are affected by seeing the evacuations and destruction on the news, knowing our distant neighbors are going through some really tough times.”

This is an ongoing event. A&E will update this story with details from voices around the industry as we receive more information. 

Do you have a story you want to share about your experiences with the California fires? Please contact us here.

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