'We never want to go through this again': Summerside business rebuilding after devastating fire

A well-known farm equipment business in Summerside has started to rebuild on the same site of a devastating fire 14 months ago. Green Diamond Equipment, on Locke Shore Road, was levelled in a fire in August 2016.

Green Diamond Equipment planning to reopen at same site in March

Construction is underway on Green Diamond Equipment Ltd.'s new building, which will be 'dramatically larger' than the old one. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Nearly 14 months after a fire completely destroyed a well-known farm equipment business in Summerside, the company is starting to rebuild at the same location. 

The fire, which started at 11 a.m. on Aug. 27, 2016, leveled the Green Diamond Equipment building on the Locke Shore Road. The shop and its contents, including vehicles and equipment, were lost.

Now, after more than a year of planning, construction has begun on a new home for the business.

Jeff Wood, the brand operations manager, said the new building is "dramatically larger" than the old one.

The Green Diamond building on Locke Shore Road in Summerside went up in smoke on Aug. 27, 2016. (Submitted by Doug MacDonald)

"There was never any doubt what we were going to rebuild and be here," he said. "It's a good business, and we want to be here for our customers."

Since the fire, the business has been operating out of a hangar at Slemon Park. They are looking forward to getting back to their more-visible location along Route 2, where there was more drop-in traffic.

"Everyday people would be driving by and they would pull in, 'Oh, I need to pick up a little item,' they'll swing in, and then you never know what they might see," Wood said. "They might see a new tractor in the showroom and say, 'I'd like to talk to a salesman about that,' so that drop-in traffic is very important to any business really if you're geared to the public.

Brand operations manager Jeff Wood says the company is looking forward to returning to a more visible location. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The new building will have an overhead crane for the service department. There will also be additional storage space for the parts department, large display area and showroom.

The company is also installing a large water storage area under the floor, which will be tied into a sprinkler system in the building, Wood said. It will have its own generator with a pump that will kick in automatically if a fire starts.

Fire suppression equipment will be installed in the new building. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"We never had one in our old building obviously. We never want to go through this again."

Construction is expected to take several months to complete, Wood said. Crews are doing concrete work to finish the foundation, as well as steel work, but everything is on schedule.

The company plans to re-open in March, just before the spring farming season. Additional staff will likely be hired, Wood said.

Wood says additional staff will likely be hired in the spr (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"As soon as we can get in the door, we'll be up and running and ready to go for our spring rush," Wood said.

"We're hoping they're done in March so that we have those couple of weeks to get into it and get settled and be ready to go."

The company plans to re-open in March just before the farm season begins in the spring. (Tom Steepe/CBC)