In the early morning of August 27th, Hurricane Laura came rolling through Lake Charles, Louisiana – the home city of Southern Edge Countertops. Jon Van Weele, owner of the company, spoke on how they’ve been impacted and how they’ve been able to rely on their machine partner, Park Industries®, during this business crisis.
The Storm’s Effect on the Shop
According to CNN meteorologists, Hurricane Laura (a category 4 storm) hit Lake Charles with gusts of wind over 120 mph for more than an hour straight. The storm caused major damage throughout the city with flooding, damaged roofs, blown out windows, and even structural damage to many buildings.
Jon’s building was one of them.
He explains, “First and foremost everyone is ok, my family is good, and that’s what’s important. As for my shop, we were hit really hard. It was a tough sight when I arrived after the storm. I lost the front face of my building and a whole side. The back area collapsed on top of my VOYAGER™ XP that we just got a few months prior.”
How did the VOYAGER™ XP handle this blow?
“It held up very well. I mean the building fell right on it, but clearly it is a very solid machine since the damages were only some ripped bellow covers. Those are easy to replace and inexpensive. There was no structural damage or anything like that.”
Have you been able to start cutting again?
“I didn’t get power back until late September, but I was able to secure a generator about a week after the storm. We made some test cuts and the machine’s cut accuracy was still right on the money. The VOYAGER™ XP is ready to go for production now, but it’s a matter of getting the rest of the shop back in order and having the job sites / customers ready once again. I mean, we had jobs scheduled where the house is now totaled, unfortunately. We’re in the waiting game yet, but I am pretty sure we will be very busy in the coming months as people look to replace their damaged kitchens, bathrooms, and more.”
Southern Edge is focused on getting their building back to full swing and gearing up for this demand.
Park Industries® Response
Darren Mehr, a Park Industries® sales associate who services Louisiana, reached out to Jon the day Hurricane Laura hit to make sure everyone was ok and see how Park could help.
Jon recalls, “Darren reached out right away to help me. He’s kept in constant communication with me, answering any questions I’ve had and getting together all the insurance info I needed. He also sent me the replacement bellow covers I needed very quickly.”
Jon continues, “What really stood out to me…Darren and his wife, Julie, even offered to fly down here to help me clean up all the debris. Park has been extremely helpful, and I couldn’t ask for a better company to work with.”
The American Made VOYAGER™ XP
Prior to the Hurricane in May 2020, Southern Edge Countertops made the leap from a Blue Ripper rail saw and wooden templates to a VOYAGER™ XP 5-Axis CNC Saw with a SIDE-SHOT™ Digital Imaging System. It’s been a major upgrade for their two-man operation, with Jon and his employee, Chris, doing all of the fabrication and installation themselves.
Jon shares, “It’s been amazing. We used to be able do 70 full houses a year and now are able to do double that. I’m sure the VOYAGER™ XP could cut far more than that, but again, it’s just the two of us so we can only install so much. It has us in a great position for when we are ready to expand. The SIDE-SHOT™ was also the perfect fit for us. Small footprint and easy to use!”
Why did you choose the VOYAGER™ XP to make this leap?
“It was about buying something that’s American Made. I didn’t want to deal with a saw that was built overseas. I’ve always tried to stand by my belief in buying American Made. That and the interactions I had with Darren before I ever even purchased the saw were very impressive. He showed me commitment before I ever spent a dime…he really made me feel comfortable with making the leap.”
On the machine’s performance.
“At first, I was skeptical on how sending a measurement from the computer to the machine would come off, but I’m telling you…it’s crazy how accurate the VOYAGER™ XP can cut. Like within less than 1/16” at most. Every time.”
On the TightCut™ Blade Plunge feature.
“The TightCut™ saves a lot of time when cutting out sinks. It speeds things up dramatically rather than having to spend extra milling time you’d need without this feature. It also has saved us material being able to fit everything so tightly.”
Why do you recommend machines from Park Industries®?
“They’re built extremely well, I don’t think there’s a better company to buy from, and you will grow your business…trust me.”
Jon doesn’t want to dwell on the Hurricane’s damage to his shop. Having built up Southern Edge Countertops almost single-handedly, he’s ready to do it again.
He confidently states, “Oh we’ll be back…better and stronger than before. Count on it.”