Nope. My power never goes out. [The last] 17 years, I lost power only two times, for like 10 minutes. Because everything's pretty much underground from the substation out to where I live.

What are the safety implications of having a generator? What does an owner need to do to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, for instance?

The generator has to be five feet away from a window, and it cannot be under a deck. So they have to have clearance around them.

If you have gas in the house or any gas appliances, you should have a carbon monoxide sensor on each floor of the house, regardless of whether you have a generator or not.

What generators do you sell?

Generac generators and Kohler generators. … We sell 100 Generacs for one Kohler. Now we're working with Kohler to sell more of their units, and we've got the pricing down to be very similar.

What work do you do when you're not installing generators?

We're the guy, after you buy that new house, you call us to come out and hang your fixtures and your chandeliers. … We're a general practitioner. We do everything.

The generator business is a nice part of what we do, but it's only probably 10 percent.

Outside of power-outage periods, when people are just fed up, what sort of customers are coming to you for generators?

Pretty much everybody. We're getting calls from people that are in modest neighborhoods [and] the people in multimillion-dollar homes.

You can't do a generator for a townhouse; most of them, they're too close together. … Some neighborhoods, you have to get authorization from the neighborhood association before you can do it. They want to make sure the noise levels will be proper.

When the power goes out, do you think, "Oh boy, generator sales!"?

I think, "Oh my God."

This storm and the last storm, they both happened on a weekend. … Nobody had full manpower. I brought guys in Saturday, but … I didn't have full crews back until Monday.

Here's a problem nobody thinks about: You lose power and you call somebody in the middle of the night … [but] a lot of roads are blocked by trees and power lines, and we can't even get out to help you.

These last two storms, the damage was so bad and so many roads were closed, to go someplace that should be a 10-minute ride was taking an hour.

If [you own a generator], you know a big storm's coming and you haven't had any real outages [for months], I would test the generator to make sure it's working before the storm. If you're not capable, put in a service call so somebody can test it for you.

You need to change that battery before you break down. … We had every one of our trucks carrying oil and batteries.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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