MIAMI, Fla.—Hurricanes Irma and Harvey continue to impact businesses even as storm strengths dissipate and weather moves farther inland. Throughout communities in Texas and Florida, companies in the apparel decoration industry return to business, or find ways to help others get back on their feet.
Joe Lee, national account manager with BAW Athletic Wear states that while company headquarters are largely unscathed, the surrounding damage is prevalent.
“Helping to rip up carpet and empty out furniture gave me a deep understanding of how much damage Harvey caused,” explains Lee. “It's unbelievable how many neighborhoods you would drive through to see everyone's belongings left on the curb side in front of their house.”
Similarly, Kati Sportcap & Bag contends that although the company itself remains mostly free of long-term damage, employees are well aware of the conditions around them.
“We are still catching up and with the side effects of Harvey all around, it is a new normal,” explains Gary Mosely, co-owner of Kati Sportcap & Bag. “We appreciate our partners at Sportsman Cap & Bag for shipping orders out of Kansas City for us during Harvey, and all who reached out to us to lend a hand.”
As businesses focus on resuming operations, support continues to flow in from within the region, and from companies outside the area. Tracy Lehnen, vice president of marketing at Charles River Apparel, says in addition to clothing donations, the shipping van the company used to deliver goods to the region is now a local rescue vehicle. Animal rescue organizations CAMO Rescue and Houston Animal Rescue Team (HART) share the donated van to retrieve stranded animals. The company plans to focus on relief efforts for Hurricane Irma as well.
“We will definitely be providing support,” explains Lehnen. “We’re just trying to figure out the best way to help.”
Elsewhere, artwork suppliers Great Dane Graphics offer apparel decorators a free design to raise relief funds. The company says the Texas-themed graphic, downloadable here, comes in raster format for screen printing and digital files. Great Dane provides a Florida-themed design for Hurricane Irma benefit efforts as well, downloadable here.
GSG also offers a #TexasStrong T-shirt, designed by apparel decoration industry veteran and Printwear columnist Lon Winters. The shirts are available for preorder here.
"GSG is proud to call Texas home,” explains Brandon Smith, director of marketing at GSG. “We are very inspired by the overwhelming solidarity of these communities as they attempt to rebuild."
GSG says 100 percent of sales go directly to local charities aiding in hurricane relief.
Penn Emblem pitches in with a custom patch in the shape of the Texas state flag. Similar to GSG efforts, all proceeds from the sale go directly to hurricane aid, specifically the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Learn more about the patch here.
While Texas continues to cope with the effects of Harvey, businesses in Florida begin to dig out from Hurricane Irma, which bore down on the state late last week. World Emblem reports no damages at the company’s Miami office, but the organization credits a rigorous contingency plan as a main factor in maintaining operations.
"A team from the Miami facility drove to our Atlanta facility to ensure we would have a customer service team," states Katherine Proano, marketing specialist at World Emblem. "The rest of the staff has been working remotely and everyone is safe."
In the Tampa Bay area, recently merged companies ColDesi and Pantograms resume operations after a week of challenges. The company’s Westshore Campus is undamaged but currently without power. In the interim the second facility, the Dale Mabry Campus, functions as the organization’s hub for all onsite employees. Sales and marketing continue to answer calls and emails remotely while power is restored. Mark Stephenson, director of marketing at ColDesi, says that although immediate surroundings are intact, the impact of the storm still strikes a personal chord for many on his team, some even struck by tragedy.
“The personal impacts for our staff reach well beyond the Tampa Bay area,” states Stephenson. “We’ve got family everywhere from Miami to Jacksonville, Antigua and Puerto Rico, so no storm around Florida, the Caribbean, or anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico leaves without an impact personally.”
Asked how those concerned can help, Stephenson suggests that alongside donating to reputable charities and relief efforts, continuing to do business with companies in the affected hurricane areas is a prime way to help them resume normal operations. He also implores buyers and apparel decorators to maintain a degree of patience with companies in the region as they balance the difficult tasks of rebuilding and striving to serve their clients.
Other Florida companies such as Bradenton-based The Rhinestone World are back online as of Sept. 13.
"Due to the entire state of Florida being impacted by the weather, we have asked our customers to understand there may be shipping delays out of our control," stresses Shanna Bellingham, copywriter and marketing assistant at The Rhinestone World. "We are working closely with USPS and UPS to ensure we get the packages out for delivery at the earliest opportunity."
Just outside of Miami in Doral, Perry Ellis' corporate office also remains closed as employees await the all-clear to return.
Printwear will continue to cover these events as they unfold and affect the industry.
Do you have a story you want to share about your experiences with Hurricane Harvey or Irma? Please contact us here.