"If our company can't stand a little adversity we shouldn't be in business," said Rod Wallace Wednesday, Nov. 21.
He was talking about the fire that consumed the largest building of his business, Wallace Auto Parts and Service in the Saline County Industrial Park in Raleigh.
The fire broke out at about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Fire investigators for Travelers Insurance said the cause of the fire was a faulty circuit box in the copy room next to the parts department.
The blaze consumed the building that housed the robotic assembly equipment that Wallace's firm uses to manufacture mining equipment, trailers and auto parts.
Firefighters had the fire controlled and were putting out hotspots at 8:45 a.m.
One of the blessings concerning the fire was that the axles which are part of the mining equipment that the company manufactures were saved from the fire. Wallace said these axles are very intricate, with complex brake and differential parts. They are manufactured in Italy, Belgium and Hungary and take over six months to acquire after they are ordered.
Some take a year to obtain. These valuable components were moved away from the fire in time to prevent them from warping from the heat, said Wallace.
None of Wallace's 25 employees lost a single day of pay. All employees are now back to work in the surviving building which firefighters were able to protect on Nov. 13.
"For us it is a setback. I don't see how anybody can come out of a fire thinking it was a good thing," said Wallace.
Concerning his plans to rebuild Wallace said, "I don't know what I will do. It depends on the underlying costs of doing business in the State of Illinois."
What he was referring to is future taxes on newly constructed business structures.
With reconstruction his buildings will be newer and evaluated at a higher rate. This will raise his taxes and have a significant effect on his company's bottom line.
He doesn't feel he is getting cooperation from the Saline County Tax Assessors Office.
"I had requested on Nov. 16 a tax estimate of what my real estate taxes would be if I duplicated the footprint of the buildings that were destroyed. On Nov. 20 I was back in the tax assessor's office and got no information. They said they would call and they did, but they could not tell me when the information would be available."
County Tax Assessor Cheryl Pearce said, "I have not gotten back to him yet. I need some additional information from him and I have not gotten that information yet."
Wallace said, "That's a lie. That is absolutely a bare-faced lie. I was not requested to give any additional information. My request to her was I need to know what my taxes will be if I rebuild the exact same structure as the one that burned at 3 a.m. on November 13. That was my original request on Nov. 16 and ten days later I have not received that information.
Page 2 of 2 - "From that I am left to assume that the county is not interested in retaining our business. When I need information I need it in a timely fashion,” Wallace said.
Wallace said he plans to bring his concerns about tax issues to the County Board at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29.