Lafayette, LA - While many small businesses have had to close their doors for good during the pandemic, one family owned business has seen business pick up so much...They've been backed up more than usual.
Gary’s Body and Paint has been open for 65 years. While business was slow at the start of the pandemic, it’s increased since.
"Our workflow did slow down dramatically. We were able to kind of stay afloat throughout the pandemic. But we did notice a major major turnoff throughout the pandemic, about a 25 to 30 percent decrease," said general manager Hunter Foret.
Thanks to an active hurricane season last summer and several severe storms, Hunter Foret says business has picked up exponentially in recent months.
"Since the hurricanes in our area, we’ve kind of been stimulated by that. Since the influx of people moving to our area, our population is growing so more cars on the road, a lot more accidents everyday," Foret said.
Foret says appointment times are backed up by two months. He says it’s partially due to people from as far away as Lake Charles scheduling work.
"We’re still seeing some storm claims floating around. Once those leave the market, we’ll go back to more average for it, we’ll drop off a little bit. But with the population [increase], similar to what happened with hurricane Katrina, we stayed busy for about two and half years after Katrina and this is kind of doing the same thing since hurricane Laura," he said.
But with meteorologists predicting a very active hurricane season this year., appointments could continue to back-up. Foret says they’re prepared for that possibility.
"We were shocked at the amount of claims we received from Lake Charles and the amount of cars coming out of there, it was stifling. We were able to work through it so after going through that, we were pretty much prepared to do whatever we have to for other storms," Foret said.
Foret commends his workers who have been working 12 hour shifts, six or seven days a week due to the influx of appointments.
Foret says he believes customers continue to bring their cars in for repairs despite long wait times due to their commitment to high quality service and remaining personal with their customers.