Business as normal for some

Even when everything around the world seems to be changing, summer is still on its way. For home service companies, that means business goes on like before.

John Barkley Sr., owner of Barkley Heating & Air in Smyrna, said he has been busy now that people are using air conditioners again.

“I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not but [business has] actually picked up since the virus came,” Barkley said. Since this winter was mild and people didn’t need a lot of heating work, the change in seasons has caused a spike in calls, he said.

At Schagrin Gas, a family-owned propane company with stores throughout the state, the nice weather and time at home has prompted more sales for barbecues and fire pits, said sales manager Marc Frey.

“More people are staying home and they’re attacking projects,” he said. While all the storefronts are closed, people can come pick up products at the store or request a delivery. “It’s actually been a little crazy that we’re still busy,” he said. “People are buying every little aspect of what we sell.”

For both, the biggest change has been increasing precautions to keep employees and customers safe.

When Barkley or his employees go into a customer’s home, they always wear masks, rubber gloves and plastic booties. They check their temperatures at the beginning and end of each day and keep sanitizer in all the vans.

“We are looking forward to this virus going away to [the point] where you don’t have to be so cautious,” he said. The masks can often be hard to breathe through as the workers climb stairs or go into tight spaces like attics, he said. The service techs at Schagrin Gas follow the same protective gear guidelines.

The next step is to reopen the storefronts, Frey said. They are planning to add plexiglass for added protection. “We’re probably looking to do our Rehoboth location first,” he said.

For more from Schagrin Gas, visit schagringas.com. For Barkley Heating & Air, visit barkleyheatingandair.com.