Zack Wallover and the Fear of Fire

2672901420_694d3830a7_mFor any business owner, a fear of fire can be a constant ghost haunting the brain. If a business burns down, it can be virtually impossible to start over again. Even if the insurance money covers most of the loss and even if many of the employees are willing to try again, a severe fire that ruins a company’s equipment and records can mark the end of that company’s existence. This was a fear that clearly was often on Zack Wallover’s mind during the 1960s.

According to George “Hub” Marquis, who began his tenure as president of Wallover in 1987, Zack’s fears about fire first became noticeable when he decided to buy a second building in East Liverpool. Zack assumed that if there was ever a fire at his company, there would be no turning back. Throughout the 1960s, the second building was improved upon and expanded to accommodate more space. The original building did not get the same treatment, oddly enough.

Sometimes, when a person is fearful about a particular subject, they need to spend all of their lives defending themselves about that fear. This easily could have happened to Zack Wallover. All of his fears about fire could have been dismissed as a silly way to expend energy, and his decision to build a “back-up” building could easily have become, in retrospect, a waste of money, or at least an expenditure that was made too early. As so often happened in Wallover’s history, however, the fates seemed to intercede.

The original Wallover building was situated next to a lumber yard, and the lumber yard ended up catching on fire. The fire was severe enough to essentially burn all of the lumber gathered there. The Wallover building was made of brick so it withstood the flames for the most part, but the side of the building closer to the lumberyard got scorched. One can almost hear Zack Wallover saying, “I told you so” as he wiped his brow in relief.

Once the remnants of the lumberyard were cleaned up, Zack decided to buy the acreage on which it had rested. He was, perhaps understandably, convinced that another fire would break out if the city replaced the previous lumberyard with a newer one. Even though the newer, more expanded building Zack had purchased as a “back-up plan” was available, Zack apparently refused to run the risk of any fire damage to the original building.

Zack’s fear of fire was not restricted to his business. According to Hub, who is Zack’s son-in-law, Zack also liked to inspect where his daughters were living to make sure those spaces were fireproof. When Hub and his wife got their first apartment, Zack, through his wife Marjean, communicated his fears that the windows did not make a good escape route in case of fire. From that point on, Zack’s children and spouses had to be particularly careful to find residences that were fireproof enough for Zack.

While all of this building expansion and land purchasing was going on, Zack was working on a new idea that would occupy him and his company for the next several years. We’ll talk more about that next week!

Image Credit: via Creative Commons