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Mohawk employees go above and beyond

October 23/30, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 10

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 2.02.36 PMOver a month has passed since hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastatingly tore through Houston and parts of Florida, respectively. It is often said that natural disasters such as these bring entire communities together. People spring into action, sometimes forgetting about their own troubles to help those in greater need.

Mohawk Industries employees Jannelle Wilson, operating manager in Houston, and Julio Reyes, regional operations manager in Florida, as well as their respective teams are prime examples of those who willingly helped others before themselves.

A few days before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Wilson and her entire facility initiated a response team and distributed emergency contact numbers for every employee. In addition, the team covered up materials and equipment to make sure the building was secure.

“Our main responsibility was making sure the people were going to be OK,” Wilson explained. “We offered everyone an evacuation route. We offered up the water we had at the facility in gallons to make sure their families were taken care of.”

During the first day Harvey it, Wilson recalled one employee was not responsive and actually lost some material items. However, she later heard from him after he found safety at a family members house not too far from his residency. The following day brought more rain and Wilson heard from two other employees whose homes were impacted.

“The third day of the storm, I did identify that everyone was secure. The city of Houston decided to relieve some of the levies and my home was directly impacted. I had some water in my master bedroom which led to a bathroom, but I have insurance so I wasn’t too concerned with what was going on in my home. My biggest worry was making sure everyone else was secure.”

Despite facing destruction in her own home and being landlocked for a couple of days, Wilson traveled to the Mohawk facility after the hurricane to assess any damages. Luckily, the materials and equipment were fine. Wilson, who has been the operating manager in Houston for only eight months, explained Hurricane Harvey brought all of the employees at her facility together as a family. Once the hurricane ended the facility even opened its doors to the community.

“We had received some water from the corporate division, but a lot of the team came together and decided this was the time to reach out to the community,” Wilson explained. “We opened our doors and were able to help a couple of organizations. Despite our own losses we still managed to come together and help those who needed it more.”

The team collected pet supplies, hygiene products, clothes, shoes, toiletries, etc. “We had people coming to gather supplies for an elderly group, a kids group, etc.,” Wilson added. “It was pretty awesome to watch in the wake of the storm everyone coming together to help other people and put our own needs aside.”

A helping hand in Florida
Reyes and the facilities he manages in Florida began preparing for Hurricane Irma days before it hit the state. In fact, the facilities have hurricane manuals with the updated names of the storms, emergency contact numbers for the employees as well as the contact information for local authorities, certain vendors and utility companies. This manual is something that is updated every year around hurricane season.

“When Irma got close to us I reached out to my superiors up in corporate and started having regular calls,” Reyes recalled. “We made the decision to close a couple of days before the hurricane’s arrival to Florida so we could prep the building and give employees time to prep their own homes.”

After the hurricane hit Reyes reached out to employees to make sure they were all safe. He explained that the areas he is responsible for received a lot of wind and faced power outages, downed gas lines and fallen trees but hardly any flooding. The facilities Reyes manages also saw little damage. While they did experience outages with their computers, the facilities were running on backup and able to manage.

“Our No. 1 focus was our employees,” Reyes said. “A lot people in South Florida lost power and lost food in their refrigerators. We talked with Mohawk’s human resources department to get those employees some help.”

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Reader’s helps Houston recoup after Hurricane Harvey

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

 

The following is the 10th installment in a series highlighting the 14 distributors that constitute Bravo Services, a group comprising many of the top flooring wholesalers in the country. Here we focus on Reader’s Wholesale, based in Houston.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 9.58.35 AMReader’s Wholesale has been a fixture in Houston for eight decades, so when Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on southeastern Texas in late August—flooding large swaths of towns and rendering roads impassible—it was only natural for Reader’s and its employees to want to give back.

And it did—in a big way. “Since the beginning of September, Reader’s Wholesale and its top management have made charitable contributions totaling $275,000 and we expect that to rise to $350,000 by the end of the year,” said Lucky Burke, chairman and CEO. “We’ve been in business for 82 years; it is incumbent upon us to support the communities. There are very few companies that will see anything positive coming out of the devastation. However, floor covering will be one of them. We just want to do everything we possibly can to facilitate the recovery.”

In addition to the monetary contributions, Reader’s employees helped their neighbors and fellow Houstonians in a number of ways. One employee, in fact, spent two days on his boat rescuing people from rising floodwaters.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 9.58.29 AMAs a company Reader’s was extremely fortunate. Its building remained intact throughout the storm, and only one of its 90 employees suffered property damage. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Reader’s worked closely with its suppliers and ordered extra inventory. The distributor also added space to an existing warehouse to accommodate the materials. “We are thankful to our suppliers who stepped up and worked with us,” Burke said. (One of them, Armstrong Flooring, donated $250,000 in flooring to the cause.)

Adam Burke, president, said business is back to normal for Reader’s, and revenue is ahead of schedule. “We already have a nice uptick in our volume for September based on what we are seeing. It appears there is a lot of action [out there] but we have not seen a real increase in business yet. We’ve seen some but the real rush of business will start in about a month. Based on the flooding events the increase in business could last one to two years from the end of this year.”

 

For more information on Reader’s Wholesale, call 713.224.8300 or visit readerswholesale.com. For more information on Bravo Services,
contact John Carney at 214.215.2880 or visit bravoservices.com.

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Swiff-Train supports Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

Swiff-Train_TexasStrongGraphicHouston—Swiff-Train announced it is providing relief for Hurricane Harvey victims. The Texas-based company had three of its distribution centers endure the hurricane. Despite extensive damage to employees’ homes and property, all personnel are safe and distribution operations are back to normal.

In addition to rallying company team members from all over Texas to help in multiple aspects, Swiff-Train has established a YouCaring fundraising account to raise funds for the recovery efforts. To donate, visit youcaring.com/swifftraincompany-930868.

Swiff-Train has also created product, display and showroom floor promotions to assist its customers with showrooms needs.

“The tremendous support from our business partners and vendors has been instrumental in our non-stop efforts to meet the supply demands,” said Shane Calloway, vice president of sales. “Swiff-Train is dedicated to supporting the storm victims through inventory, merchandising and teamwork.”

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Mohawk, Nature’s Big Springs Water partner to help Houston

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 10.14.01 AMCalhoun, Ga.—Mohawk Industries and Nature’s Big Springs Water have partnered to offer a helping hand to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The two local companies teamed up to donate and deliver more than 100,000 bottles of water to the Houston area. They split the cost of the water and will leverage Mohawk’s fleet to make the delivery once the roads are passable.

“When we saw the devastation the hurricane caused, we knew we wanted to help, and we also knew we had the means to do so with our trucks,” said Dan Flowers, vice president of logistics, Mohawk. “Each month, Mohawk trucks travel more than a million miles transporting products across the country. Even though Mohawk is headquartered in Calhoun, our drivers have many strong connections to communities throughout the United States where they have built relationships with customers and suppliers. That’s true in Houston, where we operate a satellite warehouse and our ceramic division operates several sales service centers. Thanks to our partnership with Nature’s Big Spring Water, we were able to make a difference.”

This is the second time Mohawk and Nature’s Big Springs Water have partnered to provide disaster relief.

“It’s not every day you see two locally-based companies come together and help people in need half way across the country,” said Julian Jones, owner, Nature’s Big Springs Water. “Being in the water business means we have access to an essential relief item when a disaster occurs. Mohawk had the trucks and resources to make this delivery a possibility. Helping others is important to us and we were glad to partner with Mohawk to make this happen.”

Mohawk employs approximately 130 people in the Houston area—all of whom have been identified as safe and sheltered, although some of their homes have been severely compromised. In addition to the water delivery, the company will provide additional assistance to employees affected by the hurricane.

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Hurricane Harvey disrupts Houston’s flooring businesses

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 1.09.27 PMHurricane Harvey’s catastrophic tear through southeast Texas turned Houston into a life-threatening flood zone with a record-breaking rainfall, shutting down most commerce, including flooring businesses. The immediate impact on the industry is palpable as Houston is home to three top 20 flooring distributors and a major 10-store retail chain.

For Houston-based wholesalers T&L Distributing, Reader’s Wholesale and Swiff-Train Co., as well as Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors, the immediate concern was accounting for the safety of their employees and family members. Jonathan Train, president and CEO of Swiff-Train, told FCNews the company’s Houston facility is threatened with more flooding, but he feels it should not be affected. “Houston remains closed; all other locations are up and running. We have a lot to do over the next several days to get back to normal working conditions.”

In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane and subsequent flooring, Train penned a letter to customers, vendors and business partners stating many of its employees lost power and suffered significant property damage, and many evacuated the area. Fortunately, he said, all workers have been accounted for and are safe. The road ahead, however, will be long.

“There is more to come and it will take days and weeks to assess the damage. Conditions are changing every hour so we all have to stay vigilant.”

At T&L Distributing, offices were understandably closed. Bob Eady, president, assessed the safety of his staff. “At this time we have only one employee that I am aware of that has been flooded,” he told FCNews. “We had an employee who made it to our facility Monday morning and sent some beautiful pictures of it being high and dry, thank God. The building just to the south of us was completely flooded at their docks.”

Reader’s Wholesale, a member of the 14-distributor Bravo Services Group, reported that all was well in their neck of the woods. But just to be cautious, the operation will remain closed for the week. Should circumstances change, Reader’s said it can rely on its Bravo members. “Bravo is a tight group,” said John Carney, executive director. “I’m sure if Reader’s does end up needing something it would have unlimited resources at their fingertips.”

John Sher, president of Adleta, in Carrollton, Texas, near Dallas, related that the sister of one of Adleta’s sales managers had to be rescued off the roof of her home by canoe. “It is very bad down there. We have offered to do anything we can to help Lucky and Adam Burke at Reader’s. Right now they are just hanging tight.”

Compounding the problem for distributors is the fact many roads are damaged or flooded, making routes treacherous or in some cases altogether impassible. At press time, several major highways—including some sections of I-10 in Texas—were under water.

The situation is equally troubling for retailers. Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors has 10 stores scattered about the Houston market. As of Aug. 29—just two days after the storm rolled in—Sam Roberts, owner, said he was still awaiting word on his businesses. “Believe it or not it’s still too early to get a good accounting on everything. Hardly anything in the city is open. I don’t know how many of our employees have flooded homes. We still haven’t gotten to a couple of our stores. Even for stores that didn’t flood there will probably be some power, phone and Internet outages.”

Roberts expects to reopen for business as soon as the staff can get to the stores. “We can work through minor damage,” he told FCNews. “It is also worth pointing out that large areas have no or intermittent power. We can’t operate if the stores don’t have electricity. We can’t get to our main office and distribution center so it is impossible to send any out installation crews at present—even if it weren’t raining.”

Massive scale
The natural disaster that was Hurricane Harvey is likely to turn into an economic disaster as well, with early estimates of the damage exceeding $30 billion. That would make Harvey one of the 10 most damaging hurricanes on record. In fact, it has already set a record for most rainfall—50-plus inches—from a tropical system in the continental U.S. According to Planalytics, which provides weather analytics for businesses, lost revenue to area restaurants and retailers alone is expected to reach $1 billion.

While those directly affected say the impact of the event will likely play out over the course of the coming months, if not years, many remain hopeful and optimistic the city will ultimately recover. Roberts, for instance, looked on the bright side, saying the situation could be much worse. “What if all 10 stores had 2 feet of water inside? Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors may yet emerge relatively unscathed. We’ll have to wait and see.”

T&L Distributing’s Eady added, “We are in uncharted territory logistically, but we will get through this and T&L will be stronger because of this.”

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Emser Tile opens new branch in Houston

Emser LogoLos Angeles—Emser Tile has opened its 72nd branch in North America. The new location marks its fourth branch in Houston and 10th in Texas.

Emser has experienced exponential growth in the Houston market throughout the last 14 years. The company adds a fourth location to strategically position itself in all four quadrants of the metropolitan area as well as contribute new jobs to the southeast Houston economy.

“We are honored to be able to further service our growing customer base in southeast Houston,” said Barbara Haaksma, vice president of marketing for Emser Tile. “This fourth location allows us to expand our unparalleled customer service and provide robust support for the thriving Houston community.”

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Emser celebrates its 50th anniversary of providing tile and natural stone products next year. The company continues to grow its presence throughout North America, expanding its footprint and customer service efforts across the West, Midwest and East Coast regions.

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Swiff-Train helps Houston storm victims

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 8.46.19 AMHouston—Swiff-Train Company has initiated a program to donate a portion of sales proceeds during the month of May to the Red Cross – Greater Houston Chapter for Flood Control to support recent storm victims. Swiff-Train has been a part of the Houston community for more than 30 years and looks to offer directed support in this time of need.

“With the recent storms and flooding that affected residents of the Houston area, we wanted to find a way to create funds that we can funnel to the Red Cross as they assist our neighbors,” said Jonathan Train, president and CEO. “Portions of sales program proceeds will be donated directly to the Red Cross and dedicated to those who need help recovering from the recent storms.”

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International Stoneworks celebrates 30th anniversary

Houston – International Stoneworks, a natural stone restoration and maintenance business in Houston, opened its doors in 1982, and after 30 years in business, president Rawi Tabbah wants to thank his dedicated employees and clientele.  International Stoneworks is organizing an anniversary party at The Tasting Room at Houston’s Uptown Park in March. It is an occasion to celebrate the company and its loyal commercial and residential customers. Continue reading International Stoneworks celebrates 30th anniversary