As Hurricane Harvey was depositing 50 inches of water on the Houston area, HCSS employees knew we needed to do something — help is in our DNA. We hatched a plan to help our neighbors by leading cleanup efforts.
Mike Bordelon, Vice President of Research and Design, and Kara MacDonald, Director of Marketing operations, who had evacuated to Dallas, purchased tools and supplies there and delivered them to the area quickly enough that we were one of the first organized and operational cleanup programs in Houston.
HCSS CEO Mike Rydin approved the purchase of more than $26,000 in supplies using company funds almost instantly, and Bordelon and MacDonald did the purchasing.
“He never really hesitated at all,” Bordelon said of Rydin. “He said, ‘Just get what you need to get.’ And the fact that he didn’t flinch gave me the confidence to do it.”
That timing led to an overwhelming local response that produced hundreds of volunteers each day for the first week and used up our supplies much more quickly than we had anticipated. We had tools, willing volunteers with can-do attitudes, and a near-endless amount of need, but we also had dwindling cleanup supplies.
To make things worse, the same situation was occurring in nearly every local cleanup group that had sprouted up around town. There were no local masks, gloves, or cleaning supplies to be found across the entire city, and Houston was desperate.
Customers answer the call
But our customers — construction companies across the nation — came to the rescue, as supplies began pouring into our campus. Just minutes before HCSS would have had to call it quits on our own volunteer efforts, a semi-truck owned by Ed Bell Construction showed up at our campus with the exact supplies we needed to keep our efforts moving forward.
Ed Bell Construction reduced its own company profits by taking a truck and driver out of service in order to send supplies from Dallas to Houston, even while much of the city was still under water.
“There are families that were helped that were absolutely not going to be helped had Win Bell (Ed Bell Construction CEO) not sent a truck down,” said Tom Webb, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Customer Solutions. “We had gotten down to exactly zero safety equipment. That was just not going to be acceptable. I felt responsible for the volunteers, and I was going to have to shut us down, and in came the cavalry to save the day.”
Raising money for cleanup
We exhausted our supplies twice in just the first week, only to have them replenished by shipments from heroes outside of our city. Others donated to our Go Fund Me Page, which raised more than $138,000 to help our own employees whose homes had been affected by flooding. Some customers even came to Sugar Land to donate their time. D’Annunzio and Sons, in town from New Jersey for a scheduled training, came down two days early just to volunteer cleaning up flooded homes.
“Our customers have been the backbone of this whole effort,” Webb said. “The fact that we’ve twice had situations where our supplies were such that we almost had to shut down, and people rescued us — that gives me goosebumps. I cannot even express how important they were to this whole endeavor. The fact that so many customers have donated so much money for our employees shows that we have a relationship with our customers that completely transcends customer-vendor relationships.”
Through these generous donations, HCSS was able to rally more than 2,700 volunteers to aid in cleaning 253 homes and saving our community more than $6 million in cleanup costs.
Outpouring of Support.
HCSS would like to thank all of our customers who donated time or money for their generosity during such a trying time. On behalf of our community, thank you! We are honored to be an organization that you can rely on and the kind of partner that dozens of companies would elect to collaborate with in order to help in an emergency.
These companies each donated $1000 or more or sent supplies to help with our disaster relief efforts:
APAC-Atlantic, Inc. Thompson-Arthur Division
Barnhill Contracting Company
Carolina Bridge Co., Inc.
Clark Bros. Inc.
The Collaborative Way
Crisdel Group, Inc.
D’Annunzio & Sons, Inc.
Data Access Worldwide
E.R. Snell Contractor, Inc.
Ed Bell Construction
Fiore Cares Non-Profit
Foundation Software, Inc.
George Harms Construction Co, Inc.
Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc.
JF White Contracting
J Lee Milligan Inc and Jagoe Public Company
Leon Law Firm
Manafort Family Foundation
Martin Brothers Construction
O.C. Jones & Sons
Oregon Mainline Paving
Railroad Construction Company, Inc.
Richard Price Contracting
S.T. Wooten Corporation
Shelly & Sands
Toebe Construction LLC
Winston Contracting LLC