Business owner says fire destroyed building, but not the business

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SARASOTA - A week ago, fire destroyed the offices and warehouse of a Sarasota company. The Overhead Door Company has not vowed that it will come back, because it says it already has.

The Overhead Door Company had served customers from its location on Stringfield Avenue off 12th Street near Ed Smith Stadium since 1980. The October 22nd fire devastated the building, but not the business, thanks to dead-set determination, and an outpouring of support.

Owner Scott Stottlemyer has nothing on the walls of his new office yet. And while their computer network's not up and running yet, new computers do sit on top of new desks, with new phones -- that do work -- in a new office. Just 10 days after the company lost almost everything. “You see the last 50 years, 51 years we've been in business, going up in flames…all of our records, all of our inventory.”

“I was very worried about it…was a shock.” Debbie Fox has worked there for nearly a decade, and couldn't be the only one who wondered when she'd get to work there again.

Stottlemyer had more than 30 years of relationships in the community. Before the smoke cleared, dozens of calls came, offering help. He forwarded the company phones to cell phones. The fire took everything, it seems, except what he really needed. “And we were up and running the next day.”

“Very surprised….Scott was amazing. Next morning, 7am, we were getting calls from customers,” says Fox.

You would not choose to run a business that makes news by having its building burn, but Stottlemyer says he is glad that he did choose to run a business that could make news for the way a community rallied behind it after such fire. That was the story. “It was, and is, and still is. We still have a lot of well-wishers and a lot of friends and you do find out there's a lot of great people in the community.”

The Overhead Door Company's office is now in the Eastern Industrial Park, just east of I-75. Scott's plan is to move back to the Stringfield Avenue site at some point. But he notes that while the company must re-build the facility, it does not have to re-build its business, because it survived the fire.