Bettendorf Home Repair owner Lenny Wilkinson has not taken a day off since August, when his former office at 3221 State St. caught fire after an explosion at a neighboring meth lab.
“It was a disaster,” Wilkinson said.
The contractor had been renting four storage units for 14 years at the former red warehouse, which has since been stripped to its original wood frame.
Vizient Manufacturing Solutions rented the space to Wilkinson for $700 a month. The approximately 5,400-square-foot building included storage space leased to McArtor Construction, where the fire started.
David McArtor, whose father's construction company leased the storage unit, started the fire Aug. 26 while he and others were cooking meth.
McArtor, 31, was sentenced in Scott County District Court last week to 25 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to second-degree arson, two counts of manufacturing methamphetamine, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and sponsoring a gathering for use of controlled substances.
Cases are pending against seven other defendants: Julie Anna Huffman, 32; Christopher A. Smith, 27; Ira S. Dornbach, 35; Zachary R. Bishop-Jensen, 25; Sarah M. Adamson, 21; Sylvester Emory, 53, and Jack A. Otto, 52.
An investigation also uncovered a second methamphetamine production site in a field at Middle Road and Indiana Avenue in Bettendorf, resulting in the second manufacturing methamphetamine charge against McArtor.
McArtor has to pay $8,000 in restitution to Bettendorf Home Repair and $3,500 to Vizient.
Less than a week after the fire, Wilkinson purchased a building in Eldridge, which the business now uses as its warehouse.
Between August and February, he rented and leased space to keep his business open.
“I told my employees that this is the kind of thing that can ruin us, but it doesn’t have to if we take care of our customers,” said Wilkinson, who added he has gained more trust in his employees since the fire. “It was a growing experience for me. My crew stepped up to the plate.”
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After three months of planning and preparing to continue the business, Wilkinson purchased space at 3050 State St. from Bettendorf Autowerks, just west of his previous workspace.
Blake Collins, co-owner of Vizient Manufacturing Solutions, said Wednesday the company has started the initial phases of skinning the building.
"We want to save the building and refurbish it," Collins said. "We're going to remodel it and put it back like it was."
Collins said Vizient will not lease the space after construction is completed at the end of May.
"It's space we need anyway here in the future," he said. "The next couple of months, we'll be hitting it pretty hard and peeling off original framing to see what needs replacing."
For the Wilkinson family, business is back and busy. The contractors are booked through the end of May.
“We were lucky we had been saving up for a while,” said Wilkinson, who designed his business' current home base. "You always have to find the best stud after something bad happens.”