Shop owners help fellow shop owner after hurricane

November 20, 2017 1:40 pm

By Keith Jennings

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I’m thankful to be working and writing this column after being at the epicenter of Hurricane Harvey in August, an experience that could’ve disabled our shop for a while. We were very fortunate and able to get back up and running only a week after the storm.

My family and I had been unable to reach our facility for several days because of flooding that made the roads impassable. We couldn’t get there to inspect anything and relied on local police and neighbors to monitor our property. Those days were stressful as we waited to learn the condition of the building and everything in it.

Finally, the flooding subsided and roads started clearing up, giving us a chance to see what Harvey had left us. It was a tremendous relief to see the shop dry and intact. Even so, it took another few days for some customers and vendors to get back in business. We were limited on what we could produce, due to several employees being out and an inability for materials to be delivered. But at least we were safe and somewhat operational. Many others weren’t so lucky, as their homes and businesses incurred ruinous damage.

Throughout the storm and its immediate aftermath, being unable to conduct business for an extended period of time seemed like a harsh but likely prospect. But I soon started getting emails from other shop owners, mostly from outside the Houston area, generously offering to help us in whatever way possible, including running our jobs at cheap rates as a way to keep us in business. In the thick of it all, I had not even considered that need and wasn’t expecting any shop to make such an offer.

Being on the Gulf Coast, we’ve experienced plenty of weather drama over the years, but rarely has a storm incapacitated so many businesses. The national media adequately covered the devastation, and friends from all over contacted our family out of concern. But it was another experience entirely for fellow shop owners, most of whom I’ve never met, to contact me and offer to run our jobs. We are grateful for that incredible generosity.

In the end, we were fortunate to have our shop quickly back up and running. I suppose we were also lucky that sending jobs to these good shops wasn’t required after all and that our customers understood the situation and worked with us. But those unselfish acts of kindness provided peace of mind for me and our employees. It was just plain cool.

Mother Nature may not devastate us like this again for 30 years, or it may happen again next year. Eventually, some calamity will occur. And whenever it does, we’ll handle it easier knowing the caliber of people running shops, whether nearby or across the country.

Thank you to all the shops that looked us up and offered to help. It won’t be forgotten, and I’ll be returning the favor sometime in the future.

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