We’d like to offer a rare behind-the-scenes account of two great companies working together to get much needed supplies to victims of hurricane Harvey.
Labor Day weekend here in Ohio was mostly pleasant — cool and breezy with overcast and a few short sprinkles. Unfortunately, the people in Houston had experienced a totally different story.
The people of Houston and surrounding areas are still trying to recover from the devastation of hurricane Harvey.
The flooding from the storm washed people out of their homes, destroying many. Power was out in many places, a chemical plant exploded, gas pipelines were shut down, roads closed all over the state, and sewage water filled homes. Sadly, some people lost their lives as well.
A commonality between everyone in the affected areas — they needed the staples: Tons of bottled water, medical supplies, baby food, batteries, fuel, and more.
One of the largest retail chains in Texas had all these items, but they were dealing with flooding in their locations in and around Houston as well. By late Friday, a few locations were attempting to reopen to be able to offer the much needed staples to the residents of Texas.
A problem of propane
However, there was a simple but very real problem — employees couldn’t stock the shelves efficiently because they didn’t have enough propane to run the forklifts to carry the supplies.
So, the retailer called Zephyr early Saturday morning, asking to find a way to get propane to restock their supplies.
Zephyr had the propane available, but there were a few roadblocks:
1. Zephyr is closed on Saturday, as are most of our delivery agents
2. Many of the roads around the Houston area were closed or flooded
3. Zephyr’s distributors in the area were closed or under water themselves
But the retail executives in the head office were in a pinch, to put it lightly. We realized, we had to find a way to be able to get propane and carry the supplies out for the Texas residents.
All hands on deck
We made some calls, first to our own employees, all of whom were off on this Saturday morning. Some were preparing for holiday parties with family and friends, others were working part-time weekend jobs. Our people were fully free to decline, but the Zephyr team stepped up anyways.
Our incredible staff dropped everything and came into the offices Saturday morning, some still in their uniforms from their weekend gigs, others finding last second babysitters to watch their children.
With the staff in, everyone scrambled to make calls to our distributors. With many closed for the weekend, the Zephyr staff called personal cell phones.
Some of our distributors explained that they were under water. Others were isolated by flooded roads. Some had trucks on the road that would have to be re-routed around the flooding.
These incredible people worked through the weekend, day and night, to find solutions with the Zephyr staff. The retailer’s staff, both at the executive level and on the ground, were incredibly gracious even when the news wasn’t good.
In the end, the staff at Zephyr, our distributors, and the retailer’s teams all worked together throughout the holiday weekend and by Monday, Labor Day, ALL of the chain’s locations received their much needed shipments of propane.
The stores were able to restock and get supplies to the people that needed them.
I would personally like to say the following to my team and our distributors:
Today was one of those days I was especially proud to be associated with co-workers who are willing to do what it takes to help (without complaint), as well as the corporate buyers and the executives that are motivated first by compassion. I was touched by the store managers in the affected regions who are dealing with a million problems but still take a moment amidst all the chaos to send an e-mail to our Zephyr team that says “Thank you!” I’m also especially proud and impressed with the corporate folks, to the people in stores who stayed in communication through all hours of the day and night from that Friday at 5:30PM through Labor Day. And thank you to our amazing independent suppliers that care so much! Special shout out to Root 66! Thank you all — you make me so proud to be associated with you. Hang in their Houston (and now Florida too), we’re all thinking about you.