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Ground Zero Retreats

Value Added: This family-owned business builds shelters to help protect other families from danger.
Ground Zero Retreats

Ground Zero Retreats

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Ground Zero Storm Shelters

Show Details

Show 1412: Ground Zero Retreats
Air Date: March 23, 2014



Rob McClendon: Well, the May 3 tornado that ripped its way through parts of Oklahoma in 1999 was one of those storms that was hard to survive unless you were in a storm shelter. By the time the storm ended, 50 people had been killed, more than 7,000 homes had been damaged, and more than 2,000 homes had been completely destroyed, a tragedy that spurred a Perry, Okla., company called Ground Zero to come into being all in effort to protect families from the whims of our weather.

Man, that thing is huge! That’s huge, I’ve never seen one that big.

Rob: Richard Crow knows first-hand the damage a tornado can do.

Richard Crow: My family’s house was hit with a tornado a couple of times.

Rob: May 3, 1999, a day Crow’s family, and many other lives, changed forever.

Crow: My dad’s house was actually hit and lost several barns. And actually it moved the house off the foundation a couple, 3, inches. It’s actually completely gone now, piled most of it in the basement and the rest out in the pasture.

Rob: So Crow decided to start a business that would protect his family and others. With welders working all around us, I talked to Crow about the business of making storm shelters.

Crow: One of the reasons I got into this business, we couldn’t afford to buy one. They were so expensive. And we got in the business, and we’ve helped bring prices way down in the industry and make it to where more people can afford them. And the last thing you want to see is somebody losing family members because they couldn’t afford protection.

Rob: So what began as a small family-owned business --

Crow: Up until last year, I had four generations helping. This is my first year my grandmother hadn’t helped; I think she just said, I think she’s had enough.

Rob: -- has now grown into one of the larger manufacturers in the industry, now delivering storm shelters in 18 states.

Crow: But the average storm shelter is going to cost you around $3,000 in Oklahoma. And the short story is, it is pennies on the dollar for an insurance policy to get one. It’s a lifelong investment if you buy it from a good company.

Rob: Ground Zero makes three types of storm shelters, metal safe rooms that can withstand an F5 tornado, outdoor cement shelters and their most popular, in-ground metal shelters that can be installed in most any garage.

Crow: In the garage below ground is very popular in the Oklahoma City area. The safe room is very popular in the Tulsa Metro area. And then of course you got the concrete shelter that’s most popular in the rural area.

Rob: Last year Ground Zero sold over 5,000 storm shelters, and they have a warehouse full this year. And to keep up with that demand, that means workers – everything from the welders who build the shelters --

Crow: They don’t even grab a hold of it because it’s so heavy.

Rob: -- to CNC operators who cut the heavy metal plates that the shelters are made of.

Crow: Welding, in Oklahoma especially right now, is a demanding career. Young people, to go out there, there is always work. In the state of Oklahoma with all the oilfield work going on and all the fabrication that we do, there is always a demand for welders.

Rob: In an industry that can give families peace of mind, while saving their lives in those instances when the weather turns deadly.

Crow: You get a phone call after a tornado goes through and get someone who tells you, "Hey, we appreciate you and thank you," and you know why you wake up and go to work every day. It’s very cool.

Rob: Well, Ground Zero did earn some well deserved publicity when a Slaughterville, Okla., family lost their home and all of their belongings in a tornado, and Crow’s company took part in the television show, "Extreme Makeover," to help them get back on their feet, a helping hand that Crow has also extended outside the bright lights of national TV. When another storm shelter company went out of business, leaving many local families out their down payments, but no storm shelter in sight, Crow installed his own Ground Zero storm shelters in their place, and discounted his work by the amount the families had already paid to his bankrupt competitor.