(Editor’s note: This is the third installment in an occasional series on SD Concept Engineering Inc.’s efforts to recover from the March 2010 floods)
All the signs point to recovery at Scott Dickinson’s car-engine fabrication business.
On a recent Friday afternoon, Dickinson is leaning over the open hood of a late-model SUV, in the midst of finishing the installation of a high-performance engine. At another end of his shop, an employee is doing the same to a 1971 Monte Carlo muscle car. After these projects are complete, Dickinson has a waiting list of others.
But things aren’t quite what they seem.
Yes, SD Concept Engineering Inc. has come a long way since 12 feet of water flooded the West Warwick garage last year and destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of parts and equipment.
The muck has been wiped away. In fact, the shop is nearly spotless, not a smudge of grease or anything else in the place. New tools and equipment are arranged neatly.
The building’s electrical system has been rewired. Even a 1,000-horsepower engine that was submerged in the deluge has been rebuilt piece by piece for a customer.
But the historic floods of 2010 still weigh heavily on the minds of Dickinson and his wife Wendy Field, SD Concept’s co-owner.
“We still need to move,” Dickinson said recently.
For nearly a year, the two have scoured Rhode Island for a new garage. But what they’ve found so far is too pricey, in poor condition or in a bad location.
Then there’s the fact that they own the 3,600-square-foot building where they’re located now, just a few dozen yards from the source of their problems – the Pawtuxet River.
Some neighbors in the industrial park have moved, or closed for good. But Dickinson and Field soldier on. The mortgage has tied them to the spot.
So every day, they keep an eye on the weather, wondering when it rains if they should sandbag the doors at the shop. The flood waters haven’t returned since last April, but there have been tense days where the river has come close to overflowing.
“It gets to be too much,” Field said.
One thing the river hasn’t damaged is SD Concept’s strong reputation among hot rod and muscle-car enthusiasts in and outside Rhode Island for crafting quality, high-performance components.
Many of Dickinson’s clients know what happened to the business, that some customers lost property, including cars, in the deluge. But they still call, looking for Dickinson to fabricate superchargers or custom engines that can command tens of thousands of dollars.