Sept. 5, the first Monday of the month, will see the traditional cook-outs and lake-bound vehicles as the common sight, as the heat will be fought with the last official pool parties and lake-swimming afternoon of the summer.

Yes, it is Labor Day, the day in Southeast Texas that the working man and woman put aside their tools of trade for grill spatulas and bathing suits, and look forward to the beginning of the fall season and all it brings to our proverbial backyards, such as falling leaves and football — and sometimes hurricanes.

In the midst of the festivities, one should pause and take the time to reflect on the ones in our community that keep it turning like the spokes inside a wheel. People like Mike Jones, owner of Coastal Propeller Service in Bridge City, without which that afternoon on the lake might not be possible.

“We’ve been very busy lately with recreational propellers and ski-boat propellers,” Jones said. “We usually do work on crew boats and shrimp boats as well, but that has been a little down lately.”

Jones said that the main thing that affects him and his workers is the heat that Southeast Texas has experienced this summer.

“We try to get started between 6:30 and 7 a.m. just trying to beat the heat,” he said. “Every two weeks or so we go through eight to ten of those five gallon water jugs. But, despite the heat, summer is our busiest time of the year, so we are here to provide good, quality service for our customers.”

Jimmy Scales, owner of Scales Portable Buildings, said that the heat has been the roughest thing for them this summer as well.

“It is tough,” Scales said. “We get here at daybreak to try and get a lot done before it gets too hot. We try to work until about 1 or 2 p.m. After that it is back to the shop.

“But, some of our buildings can’t be built in the shop and have to be built on location.”

Scales said that the economy hasn’t really put too much of a damper on the family business, but it does see its share of fluctuation.

“It is up and down,” he said. “Everybody I talk to seems to be in about the same boat. You go through some times where you wonder how you are going to make it, and then you get two or three jobs come in at a time, so it works out.”

Russell DeLome, body shop manager at Like New Automotive, said that they have seen some slower times this year as well, but they still have work coming in.

“The vehicles that are getting hit are making it in,” DeLome said. “But, the vehicles doing the hitting are not being brought in as much. It is tough these days for people to meet that deductible.”

DeLome said that makes it harder on his crew, as they make money off of commission.
“It directly affects their salary when it gets slow,” he said.

DeLome said that another reason they are seeing not as many cars brought in is the cheaper insurance people are buying to try and save money in the economic crunch.

“They may be saving that 15 percent on the front end, but that can turn around and get you in the back end,” he said. “I saw one customer out $5400 (on his totaled vehicle) due to his insurance. And, there wasn’t a thing he could do about it.

“When you are saving money, be careful.”

But, DeLome said that they continue to see people come in and return when they have trouble at some other point down the road.

“Return business is always better,” he said. “Well, not for them due to the circumstances of course, but it says a lot for us as a business when people choose us again. We want to work for the customer and give them the final word, not just do whatever the insurance company says.”