With summer heat turned up, businesses adapt

Adriene Hill Aug 13, 2012

With summer heat turned up, businesses adapt

Adriene Hill Aug 13, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: Farmers we’ve heard about in some of the stories on this year’s record drought. Ranchers, too. And consumers and higher prices.

Not so much, though, about small businesses far removed from the food chain. And the way they’re adapting to extreme summer heat. Marketplace’s Adriene Hill fills in the blanks.

Adriene Hill: It’s hot. Really hot. Which is no good if you’re a landscaper.

Richard Poynter: It’s been difficult.

Richard Poynter runs Poynter Landscape Architecture and Construction in St. Louis. He says there’ve been plenty of days where his crews just can’t plant…which doesn’t always make his customers happy. But they come around.

Poynter: Because it’s been so hot here, people just get it. You just kind of tell them: it’s 102; we shouldn’t be planting.

He’s focused instead on construction. Putting plantings off until cooler days, or sometimes, cooler times of day.

Poynter: Guys will be coming in early, maybe at four in the morning. We’ll be transplanting trees and putting them in the ground.

I guess when life gives you extreme temperatures, you set an earlier alarm.

In Glenwood Springs, Colo., the heat and drought has meant a different sort of change for whitewater rafting company Blue Sky Adventures. Patrick Drake is Blue Sky’s co-owner. He says the water level is down this year on the Colorado River.

Patrick Drake: We’re currently at a level 3, which is still a good family level or intermediate level.

So, Blue Sky’s doing a lot more with kids, and church groups. Business is still good, but they don’t have as much to offer the daredevil set. Sorry, extreme rafters.

For other small businesses, the heat has been a really good testing ground for new products. Take, for instance:

Gary Murray: The Polar Bra Coolers.

Yup, you heard right. Polar Bra Coolers. Gary Murray owns Polar Products in California, which makes the bra inserts. He says, this summer, they’ve sold great. But have required him to adapt — to awkward conversations about products that cool and lift.

 Murray: I don’t know, I guess it’s awkward just because, you know… uh… Most men don’t talk about the bra.

But he says he’s a lot more comfortable now. Making the most from the heat.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

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