Monday, July 29, Dave Cooper was working at his home office, planning events to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his PPG Platinum Distributor location in St. Louis, Missouri, when he received a call informing him that his store, Cooper Color, was on fire. When he arrived at his store 25 minutes later, he said, "I knew it wasn't good."
The fire started in the adjoining business, a landscaping business, when an employee set some rags on fire. The fire department was able to keep most of the inventory from burning, but heat damage had ruined his product and the building was virtually destroyed.
Fortunately, all the delivery vehicles were saved. Almost immediately, Cooper called his employees together and they began to discuss how fast they could get back into business.
Before the fire was even out, PPG Regional Manager Joel Hartnagel and Territory Manager Jeff Griffin were on the scene. Moments later, Greg Bartnett of Meramec Heights Collision Center came by and offered the use of an empty building behind his shop, as well as several phone lines.
Miraculously, about 95 percent of the company's records were recovered - loss of records is the major reason for companies going out of business following a fire - but Cooper was left standing in front of his business with 14 employees, six delivery trucks and a few cell phones.
Kevin and Wendy Brinkley of The Paint Store, another local PPG Platinum jobber, offered help. "They were very generous," said Cooper. "We were delivering paint the next morning due to their help. Everyone from the PPG family pitched in and I was amazed we got back on our feet so quickly. I'm very grateful to the PPG employees, my fellow jobbers and my customers. We didn't lose one customer because of the tragedy."
On Wednesday morning, July 31, just two days after the fire, Cooper got approval from the local fire inspector to move his facility into a building across the street from his destroyed business. By 2 p.m. a large product delivery arrived from the PPG warehouse in Kansas City, Missouri. "One week later I would say we were almost back 100 percent," Cooper exclaimed.
"Our business has done very well this year, and has doubled in size since I purchased the business in 1997," Cooper said. In 2001 Cooper opened a second location in Taylor, Missouri to serve markets in Missouri and Illinois.
"I would like to thank everyone who helped us in our time of need," Cooper stated. "Even though this was a devastating tragedy, it brought us all closer together and I think we'll come though this as an even stronger company than we were before. This just goes to show how important it is to have good employees, good customers and the excellent services we receive from PPG."