FLINT (WJRT) (12/04/2017) - Just two days after a fire destroyed a family-owned business in Flint, its owner made good on his promise to stand by his 20 employees in a lurch during the holidays.
"By tomorrow morning, I will have everybody that works for me out on job sites, and we're ready to go back to work," Wesley Benning said Monday evening.
Benning credits the community with helping his commercial and industrial painting and flooring business get back on up and running so quickly.
"My focus is taking care of my customer and taking care of my employees," he said. "And we're going to do both."
A fire ripped through Benning Painting and Industrial Flooring at 1007 Saginaw St. in Flint on Friday evening and overnight into Saturday. While some of the office area was spared, much of the adjoining warehouse buildings were destroyed.
Inside, 12 vehicles and a wealth of tools also burned.
Fast forward two days and Benning was ready to show off his new temporary home on West 12th Street. He planned to send out crews on jobs Tuesday, thankful that nobody was hurt in the blaze.
"My whole world changed, but you know what, nobody got hurt and that's the most important," he said.
The owner of Bill Carr signs called Benning within hours of the fire, offering to move some of his staff from his offices on West 12th Street so Benning could move in with his employees the next day.
"We have some offices," Benning said while touring the temporary quarters. "We're lacking furniture."
"He went above and beyond," Benning said of Carr, his friend and fellow business owner. "His people were here moving stuff out. I brought my people in. We're starting to bring our stuff in that we could salvage from our office."
Benning assembled tool kits for his painters to get started on replacing tools they lost in the fire.
"We have supplied our painters with the necessary thing to get them started," he said.
Benning's employees have agreed to carpool to their work sites over the next several days, allowing Benning to keep everyone on the job.
"We've had our clients call and ask what can we do and I said, 'Just keep us working. We'll be back working,' and the response has been awesome," he said.
As for Monday's lost wages?
"We missed today -- my painting crew did -- but they all got taken care of for that," he said.
Benning's company had been in the Saginaw Street location for 23 years. He plans to rebuild somewhere in Flint next year with the help from his insurance company.
The cause of that fire is still under investigation.