Just how serious were recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma?

In 166 years of weather records, it was the first time two Atlantic Category 4 hurricanes (those with winds between 130-156 MPH capable of downing power lines and uprooting trees) made landfall in the United States during the same year.

I heard an estimated 178,000 homes in the Texas Gulf Coast region will have to be gutted and cannot be remodeled, while 1 million (yes, 1 million) automobiles were totaled by flooding caused by Harvey in that area.

Irma’s destruction also was devastating in parts of Florida where I was told one in four homes in the beautiful Florida Keys region were destroyed by the hurricane.

Our industry was not immune to the hurricanes’ wrath either. For a complete look at how the hurricanes impacted the PHCP-PVF community, check out my story in this issue.

But once again, in the face of adversity our industry has stepped to the forefront to make sure its employees are being helped in this great time of need. For example, as of this writing the American Supply Association has raised nearly $30,000 to help those affected by Harvey.

In the case of Ardmore, Pa.-based national distributor Hajoca, it’s been all hands on deck and then some in helping its profit centers and teammates affected by both storms.

“Hajoca is a company with a huge heart,” South Central Division Manager Marshall Maedgen tells me. “Our m.o. in situations like this is to take care of our teammates who are in need of home, automobile and monetary assistance, as well as moral support. This is where Hajoca shines.”

One Hajoca teammate in the Houston area had his home significantly impacted by flood waters. Conroe (Texas) Profit Center Manager Jeff Farnsworth wasted no time preparing a literal game plan for what was needed to help the teammate in need right down to who was on the chainsaw and power-washer crews. He asked for 15 volunteers and got more than double that. In the interim, Hajoca moved the impacted teammate to a nearby apartment complex.

“It’s been a huge humanitarian effort,” Maedgen says. “We’ve also had help from our customers and the vendor community. We had teammates in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin who brought their boats to Houston to help out. There is so much good that has happened and these folks aren’t doing it because they expect anything in return. They are doing it because they care.”

The impacted Houston-area teammate was beyond grateful for the massive outpouring of support from his coworkers. “Even while they too were fighting the water and crazy weather, they took the time to make sure we were OK,” the teammate said in a letter of thanks circulated in a company internal newsletter. “It makes me proud and happy to call these guys not only my coworkers, but most of all my family. I would go to the ends of the world for them also.”

Richard Menter, Hajoca’s Southeast division manager, notes the company’s corporate office purchased generators and dehumidifiers ahead of Hurricane Irma so they were ready where needed after the storm passed.

In that same internal newsletter an email chain was shared concerning generators that were needed in Hajcoa’s Beaumont, Texas, profit center. Multiple generators made their way to Beaumont in a hurry thanks to the proactivity of the company’s Louisiana profit centers.

“It is my intention to fill/top off all generators with fuel and send an additional full gas can with each one,” wrote Bobby Soileau, profit center manager of Hajoca’s The Plumbing Warehouse location in Lake Charles, La.

Maedgen unfortunately has heard stories on the other end of the general workforce spectrum. “We have teammates who tell us they have kids in the workforce who were told if they didn’t come back to work they would be fired,” he says.

Maedgen credits Hajoca President Rick Fantham (former ASA president) for the company taking the exact opposite stand with its teammates. “Rick is our head cheerleader,” he says. “His response in times like this always is instant and consistent. With him it’s turn Hajoca off and take care of your family. That’s who Rick Fantham is. We’re blessed we work for a company like Hajoca.”

One of Hajoca’s internal mantras is “In times of need, we will find a way to say yes.” And when disasters such as Harvey and Irma strike, its companies like Hajoca that are the reason why people and businesses are able to recover and prosper once again.


This article was originally titled “The answer is yes” in the October 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.