Harrison business owners plan April re-opening after devastating fire
Published February 7, 2013
HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Bob Convery admits he was probably driving a little too fast the evening of Jan. 14.
But he had a good reason, and it was only for a short distance, since his Harrison Township home is just a few blocks away from his Jefferson Avenue business, Shoreline Collision.
The family-owned business that was started by Convery’s father, Robert Convery Sr., in 1981 was on fire and Convery was anxious to get there and assess the damage and do whatever he could to save the building.
“The road was closed off, traffic was backed up because of the fire crews at the scene,” he said. “I couldn’t get there; I could only watch the smoke from a distance.”
Bob was alerted to the fire by a neighbor near to the business who was unable to get a hold of him or his wife Laura Convery. The neighbor saw the flames and contacted 911 before alerting the Converys at their home. Laura was at a doctor’s appointment with her grandson at the time and didn’t have her cellphone with her.
“I almost had a heart attack because I was in the house and then there was someone frantically pounding on my door,” Bob Convery recalled.
In the end, the single-alarm fire caused more than $100,000 in damage. An investigation by the Harrison Township Fire Department determined that the fire, which started at just after closing time at 5 p.m., was accidental and was started from sparks from a mini torch Convery was using during a repair project that day.
“Two of our personal vehicles were damaged; no customer vehicles,” said Bob Convery. “I was glad for that.”
The six-car shop sustained heavy fire and smoke damage, but now it’s on the road to renewal.
Since the fire, a restoration company hired by the couple’s insurance company has been working on clearing out debris and sandblasting the interior, which sustained the most damage after the stray spark ignited some highly flammable materials. The building is getting a new roof and an entirely new electrical system, as well as a fresh coat of paint.
Laura Convery said the loss of business over the past month has been hard on the family, but she and her husband are looking forward to re-opening in early or mid-April.
“A lot of our (returning) customers have tracked us down, wondering if we closed for good,” she said. “We will be back in business.”
And they’ll continue doing what they’re known for: custom paint work, body and straightening.
Bob Convery does the majority of the work himself, but he does get help from one part-time professional. He has been working at Shoreline Collision since his father opened it 32 years ago, and has been sole owner since his father’s retirement 15 years ago.
“This was our first fire ever,” said Bob Convery. “I’d hate for us (Shoreline Collision) not to be around anymore. We’re a ‘mom-and-pop.’ Look for us to open back up for business, Monday through Friday, in April.”
Shoreline Collision is located at 39544 Jefferson between Metropolitan Parkway and South River Road. The business number is (586) 469-0031. At press time, the number was down.