Hurricanes Harvey and Irma impacted the PHCP-PVF distribution community in different ways, but the industry as a whole was fortunate the damage wasn’t much worse.

Randy Wool, president of Miami-based Wool Plumbing Supply said only its Naples, Fla., location suffered damage from Irma with several overhead doors blown in, skylights damaged and metal siding ripped from the building. Wool has nine locations in Florida. “We were very fortunate,” Wool said. “Our inventory was untouched.”

Ken Berke, co-founder and vice president of Margate, Fla.-based Action Supply, noted the company’s two locations came away mainly unscathed with a street sign at its Lake Worth, Fla., facility being the main casualty. “We were fortunate that we only temporarily lost power in both locations,” he said.

In the Houston area, Sara Alford, general manager at master distributor Newmans Valve, reported one of the company’s regional managers had about a foot of water in his house from Harvey’s flooding rains and had to be rescued.

Industrial PVF distributor Texas Pipe & Supply President Keith Rubenstein said 30 employees were affected either with homes or cars being flooded, or in some instances, both.

Also in Houston, industrial PVF manufacturer Penn Machine had 21 of its 114 employees suffer damage or loss to homes and cars. Recent structural improvements to its Houston facility staved off flood damage there. “The new addition and investment in upgrading storm-water runoff pipes and detention basins did a great job protecting the facility,” Penn Machine President Joe Pro said.

Up in South Carolina, Columbia-based Gateway Supply closed its two coastal branches for a stretch and took all company trucks off the road the day Irma rolled into town. “We were very lucky to avoid much of Hurricane Irma,” Gateway President Sam Williams Jr., said.


Making a difference

Relief efforts throughout the industry have been widespread, particularly in helping affected employees. Texas Pipe & Supply started its own hurricane relief fund that Rubenstein noted has been generously donated to.

“We were able to provide temporary accommodations, supplies for demolition and cleaning, some essential appliances, diapers and necessary toiletries, clothing and school supplies,” he said. “On the longer-term scale, we are working with some of our employees who did not have flood insurance to provide them volunteers from our office with construction skills to help reinstall insulation and replace sheetrock and floors. As our employees get resettled in their homes, we also are prepared to replace lost furniture, bedding, etc., to ease their transition from displacement.”

Miami-based Lion Plumbing Supply is focusing its relief efforts for those affected in the Florida Keys. Normally, Lion runs a truck from Miami to Key West twice a week, making 15-20 stops throughout the 110-mile island chain.

“The Keys are an extension of our community,” Lion Vice President Sheri Newman said. “We consider them our backyard. We hold a tradeshow in Key West every other year. They are not only our customers, but these are our friends.”

Newman lauded the efforts of Lion Showroom Manager Jessica Schussler in setting up a Lion Facebook page that announced Lion as being a drop-off location for essential staples to be delivered to the Keys.

Houston-based Texas Plumbing Supply and President Glenn Fuller immediately sprang into action to help four employees whose homes flooded, including two who lost everything and had no insurance. Fuller put out a call to action in emails to industry partners and friends detailing what each family needed down to children’s clothing sizes. Fuller stressed all assistance would go directly to the four families.

Fort Worth, Texas-based MORSCO has 12 stores in the Houston area and through the Salvation Army pledged to make a base donation of $10,000, while matching any employee donation up to $10,000. That effort will result in a $30,000 total MORSCO donation for Harvey relief efforts. MORSCO is working to make an additional donation to the Salvation Army to be earmarked to those affected by Irma, MORSCO Chief Human Resources Officer Jennifer Alfaro reported.

Ferguson saw four locations suffer minor damage from Harvey, while 73 associates suffered either home or vehicle damage, or both. A total of 108 Ferguson branches in the Florida to South Carolina market were closed at some point during Irma with more than 21 locations losing power. Twelve Ferguson associates were assisted with Irma-related needs and managers were given the go-ahead to take care of associates’ immediate needs for lodging, clothing and food related to both storms.

At the national distributor’s Frostproof, Fla., distribution center, General Manager Chris Von Rautenkranz purchased fuel from a farmer and housed 18 associates and their families who were unable to evacuate. Another branch helped provide a window air-conditioning unit for an associate whose son’s medical condition requires him to be in air-conditioning.

While Meridian, Miss.-based Southern Pipe & Supply was not directly impacted by Harvey or Irma, it didn’t stop the distributor from helping those in need. The company’s Camden, Ark., branch, like Lion Plumbing Supply in Miami, used social media to get the word out about being a drop site for needed items.

“As a store made up of mostly millennials, we knew the power of social media,” Branch Manager Jeremiah Allhands said. “Word began to travel fast and we soon found ourselves with truckloads of supplies stacked everywhere. To say the response was truly amazing would be an understatement. The love and care we witnessed was truly heart-moving and really a relief to see in such trying times.”