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Industry escapes hurricane, assists victims

Wednesday, 13 Sep 2017 ( #838 ) - United States
News Story
Marines hand supplies to a family in Orange, Texas during recovery and relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Niles Lee
As communities in Florida and Texas begin the clean up after the latest hurricane battering which left at least 10 people dead, it appears that the materials handling sector has emerged largely unscathed.

The largest forklift manufacturer in the hurricane area is Houston, Texas-based Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc. (MCFA).

The company’s facilities escaped damage and, according to a company statement, "While MCFA is still working to confirm that all employees and their families are safe and accounted for, we are thankful that thus far everyone is safe.  

"We are not yet certain of the total extent of damages our team has endured, but we know that for some, the road to recovery will be long and challenging," it adds.

MCFA has established MCFA Assistance Foundation to assist hurricane victims.

"Hurricane Harvey has left thousands of families stranded and countless homes damaged in one of the most catastrophic disasters in Texas’ history.  Many of our fellow employees, dealers, customers and suppliers have asked how they can help the MCFA team members who are most impacted by this tragedy," company president Ken Barina has told staff.

For forklift dealers in the affected area, the main challenge was a loss of power. Most appear to be back in business.

Colleen Burke, marketing coordinator at Hoistlift of Florida, tells Forkliftaction News its dealership in Fort Myers was in the direct path of Hurricane Irma. "Our office reopened this week with the help of generators and contractors to fix the damage."

The dealership is focused on helping victims rebuild, she says, adding "We’re currently sending supplies from our Chicagoland location to (assist)." 

UniCarriers Americas senior director of sales and marketing Brian Markison says dealers have had their power restored. "None of their locations amazingly (sustained) any significant damage. They are up and running and serving their customers."

He tells Forkliftaction News that UCA is in the process of launching a program to match contributions that employees make to a designated hurricane relief fund.

Florida Forklift is open for business in Tampa, according to marketing manager Chris Morgan. "(There was) no damage at any of our location’s buildings."

Meanwhile, the Wolter Group’s branches were also not directly affected by the recent disasters, says marketing manager Kristin Lelewicz, "however, our supply chain has been affected".

"Our company always tries to pitch in however we can in times of need," she adds, explaining that the group has donated the use of a Mitsubishi forklift to the JJ Watt Foundation’s food and supply drive for Hurricane Harvey victims in Wisconsin.

Equipment Depot was "fortunate that all our employees are safe, and we did not have many damages from Hurricane Harvey to our SE Texas branches - Houston, Corpus Christi, Beaumont and Brazosport", VP of marketing Hue Du tells Forkliftaction News. "However, some of our employees in these areas lost everything, and some had damages to their home and vehicles.

"During this difficult time, our employees have been very supportive of each other, along with being generous with their time and pocket book to help those in local communities to rebuild. 

"To help our employees get back on their feet, Equipment Depot has created the Hurricane Harvey Equipment Depot Employee Relief Fund with a USD25,000 corporate donation to get the fund started. Also, Equipment Depot will match all donations dollar-for-dollar, along with dollar-for-dollar matching from our parent company, Pon Holdings." So far, almost USD200,000 has been raised.

Meanwhile, the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) continues to support its emergency management partners with information and relationships to ensure they have the best data for decision making. ALAN, which was active during Hurricane Harvey and Irma, is also watching Hurricane Jose’s track toward the US East Coast.

As reported in the wake of Harvey, ALAN, of which MHI is a founding member, has rallied to muster support for victims of the flooding in Texas.

Looking more broadly at the latest US disasters, the Institute for Supply Management points out that the Houston, Texas metro area is home to the sixth-largest import terminal in the world, as well as all of the shipping lanes in the Gulf Coast area. Given the strong economic linkages between the Gulf Coast and the country as a whole, ISM warns that the hurricanes "will impact the US economy far beyond that of the Gulf Coast".

"The human and corporate impact are significant. Indeed, the results of our ISM Report On Business Survey indicate ongoing challenges for US companies with pricing, supplier deliveries, and certain commodities because of the storm," says CEO Tom Derry. On the positive side, Derry notes that the effect on production, new orders and employment will be "relatively minimal".

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