Tornado Tale: Pentz Appliance and Marshalltown Get Back to Business

The scene in downtown Marshalltown, Iowa, after a tornado tore through the city in July 2018. Pentz Appliance can be seen to the left.

By Andy Kriege, YSN

Tim Price had just purchased Pentz Appliance and TV in Marshalltown, Iowa, when disaster struck.

There was almost no warning when a tornado hit his community on July 19, 2018. The new BrandSource dealer had only been in the business for a couple of months and hadn’t yet weathered a Labor Day sale, much less a natural disaster.

Owner Tim Price, left, assesses the debris outside his store.

Although the twister left serious damage behind throughout the community, Pentz Appliance was fortunate. “The building next to us was damaged extensively and they tore what was left of it down,” Price said, taking a quarter of his own roof with it. But although Pentz’s storefront is all glass, “None of the front windows broke,” he said, “not a single one. We left the front door open and that released all the pressure.”

Other than the roof and a few cosmetic repairs, such as a front sign that was blown down, Pentz Appliance came through relatively unscathed. “We didn’t lose any inventory,” Price said. “We got real lucky.”

What really helped save the business was the fact that Price had a good insurance plan in place.

“When we bought the business, we made sure we had good insurance for something like this,” he said. “Not that we expected it to happen, but we made sure we had loss of income, employee wage insurance … just about anything you could get for when something like this happens, we had it.

“It’s not that I’m that super smart,” he added. “I just listened to my insurance agent.”

The takeaway from Price and Marshalltown’s misfortune is to be prepared for a disaster. “Something like this will hit you when you least expect it with no warning — be prepared or it will bury your business,” Price said.

Across the street from Pentz, the courthouse’s replacement dome awaits final repairs on the building.

Today, the people of Marshalltown are well on their way to returning to the lives they knew before the powerful tornado ripped through their community. But there is still more work to be done, as residents of the central Iowa city continue to pick up the pieces more than a year and a half later. Unfortunately, areas of the town where the population was underinsured still show considerable damage as residents struggle to fund repairs and get back on their feet.

Amid it all Pentz Appliance continues to grow, adding more brands and inventory and expanding its service department, although repair work is now prioritized around the company’s own appliance customers, noted store manager Caela Price.

Also fueling growth is a renewed focus on the digital side of the business, including its e-commerce site, a higher profile on social media and the pursuit of positive online reviews to drive more traffic.

“Business is getting better every day,” Caela concluded. “We are excited about the future of the company and our town.”

BrandSource is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.