Hurricane Harvey Batters Southeast Texas; Industry Comes Together In Support
Houston and Southeast Texas continue to wrestle with Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Massive flooding in Houston has brought much of the city to a standstill and caused many businesses to close or limit their operations. Companies in the promotional products industry have been affected as well, and the Houston Area Promotional Products Association (HPPA) has postponed its Hot Stuff Expo, which was originally scheduled to start today.
With floodwaters turning much of the Houston area into a patchwork of temporary islands and lakes, several industry suppliers and distributors have reported disruptions in their operations. Supplier Hirsch Gift closed on Monday because of severe flooding in the area; as its facility did not sustain any damage, it reopened today with a limited staff to ensure urgent orders are executed. It plans to be fully operational by Thursday. Supplier The Platform Group Gallery reports also surviving the flooding and is operating with a skeleton onsite staff and home-based employees. The company was able to get rush orders out last week, but with roads in the area impassable for the most part, further shipments may have to wait until carriers resume service. For the latest updates on industry businesses affected by Hurricane Harvey, click here. To report your company’s status, email PPB@ppai.org.
Utility provider CenterPoint says that 96 percent of its customers in the Houston area have power, and while several distributors in the Houston area have closed their offices, many report that staff members are working from home and have access to email and other communication channels.
So far, 18 counties in Texas have been declared a state of disaster by the federal government, as have five Louisiana parishes—Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermilion—in anticipation of Harvey moving into the state. The Business Recovery Fund (BRF) has been activated to support businesses located in the designated counties. The fund can help replace lost equipment and supplies—computers, cell phones, office supplies, promotional products catalogs and samples—provide a work area, or give other assistance as needed to get a business up and running as soon as possible. Those in the designated counties that need assistance can fill out the assessment here: http://www.regionalassociation.org/business-recovery-fund/brf-assistance.
Promotional products companies are showing up to help communities affected by Hurricane Harvey and their colleagues in the industry. This week, the Arizona Promotional Products Association (AzPPA) is hosting its AzPPA Expo in Phoenix and is collecting donations at the show for the BRF, and has educated its attendees and exhibitors on the BRF. At the SAGE Show, running this week in Irving Texas, attendees can donate by visiting the PPAI booth or going online at http://www.cvent.com/events/donate-to-the-fund-/event-summary-2671a00eff5a4cc9ae5a24f21b1182a7.aspx.
PPAI issued a member alert on Friday to all businesses in the region notifying them that it was opening its headquarters in Irving, Texas, (about 250 miles north of Houston) to industry members displaced by the storm. In an email from PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, the Association is offering its office space, phone, fax, wifi, copiers, restrooms and showers to allow industry members to continue business until their offices or home offices area available for occupancy. A special email address and phone extension have been set up to handle requests: MYPPAI@ppai.org or 888-I-AM-PPAI, extension 3280.
Sean Roark, CPIM, vice president incentive programs, for distributor PromoPros/IncentPros, in Spring, Texas, notes that Harvey may bring difficulties for promotional products companies in the coming weeks or months, but it also brings opportunity and resiliency. He says, “We are going to have a lot of client companies that might have had some available promotion dollars but now that money is redirected to fixing the roof or replacing the flooded-out phone system. As Houston has a tighter economy than most due to our reliance on the oil industry, this could make it very tough for us and some of our friends in the industry. The other side of the coin is that we have many Houston-based companies that want to get the word out to their customers. Each of them has a message that they are in business, they are ready to fill orders and they appreciate their customers’ loyalty.
“It turns out that there is no communication tool around that is better at communicating a message then a promotional product,” says Roark. “This is the opportunity for the Houston community to call our clients and give them the expert advice for which we are famous, and help them keep and build their businesses with clever personalized items that communicate that they are open and ready for business.”