This industry has afforded me the opportunity to travel the country and the world, for that matter.
Though trips over the years to places such as China and Germany were impressive and memorable, there is no place like home.
But lately home, that being the United States, has endured some catastrophic weather events, specifically the ultra-rare snow/cold snap in Texas.
Who would ever have thought you would hear that Houston residents woke up one day in February to a temperature of 9° F?
That severe winter weather, to put it mildly, wreaked havoc on the region and its citizens — a ripple effect felt throughout our industry. Ferguson published a piece on safety tips for trade pros during disaster recovery efforts that quotes AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel Myers as saying the total damage and economic loss caused by that storm could be close to $50 billion, which includes plumbing and HVAC repairs.
I saw photos on a social media site of a manufacturers rep executive’s interior of his home destroyed by burst pipes. I heard the story of another industry person having to break up the ice in the backyard swimming pool in order to get access to the pool water that, in turn, could be used to flush the toilet. As I am writing this, we are hearing some distributors are still without power.
ASA CEO Mike Adelizzi sent out a note to ASA members about the situation, detailing conversations he had with members that relayed stories of long lines for parts to fix broken water lines, water heaters and other plumbing products. One ASA member requested help with products such as press fittings, backflows and vacuum breakers, CPVC fittings and pipe and insulation.
Another ASA member said it had plenty of inventory, but was running out quickly.
Mike’s note to ASA membership included contact information for all ASA distributor members in Texas with encouragement to reach out to them and offer any assistance possible (if you would like that list, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Longtime ASA philanthropic partner World Vision and Jack Laverty also wasted no time in providing updates on the affected areas and putting a plan of attack into action. Laverty noted at the time in late February, 8.8 million people were experiencing water disruption because of the storm — as in don’t have access to water or the water they do have is unsafe to drink. And even when the water systems do come back online that water, he wrote, would still be unsafe to drink and boil orders would be needed.
World Vision deployed industrial solar-powered generators to two of its longstanding partners that have shelters and its food banks in the region, while its Dallas warehouse started distributing water and other supplies to its partners, while its Pittsburgh and Chicago warehouses sent tractor-trailer loads of supplies to the Dallas warehouse.
Winsupply of Houston Plumbing & Mechanical President Vince Roach sent out a call to action on LinkedIn that was beyond powerful.
“We have received more desperate calls than we can count from homeowners and building owners saying their plumbers can’t fix their water because there is no material,” he wrote. “The most heart-wrenching came from an owner of a retirement facility saying the residents are having to carry buckets of water in order to flush the toilets.
“I know our industry is overwhelmed, and everyone is doing the best they can. I applaud each and every contractor working tirelessly to help those in need. Wein the supply industry are merely the wind beneath your wings. I have seen with my own eyes the line of contractors waiting at other big-box/multi-location plumbing supply companies for hours — when finally getting their turn only to find out that they can get a small fraction of the material they need.”
Roach then urged supply houses in the area to take off their competitive hats. “To my colleagues in the supply industry: During this time, I implore every plumbing supply company in the city of Houston to think of the human being in need of clean, potable water to their dwelling, and not the potential of losing a sale or a customer. Please know every plumbing supply company in your geographic area and refer that contractor so they can get the needed material. Give a copy of the names and addresses to your counter sales teams for quick reference. We will all go back to battling it out competitively once this crisis is behind us. Our industry was deemed essential when COVID began; However, we could not be more essential than we are right now!”
It never ceases to amaze me how our industry springs into action during times of need. This time is no different.
If you know someone in the industry that lives in the areas affected by this historic weather, give them a call, check in on them and see where you might be able to help.
That’s what our industry does. We look out for each other.
And if you have an additional free second, check out the Ferguson article that delves into the many complexities involved in current-day disaster recovery efforts.