“Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma ripped through Texas and Florida, the destruction they left in their paths was worse than anybody had dreamed of. The world watched helplessly as the storms took homes, schools, offices and even lives. With a history of executing relief efforts during previous natural disasters, the Simon Group Holdings team instinctively pulled together to come up with a plan to help.
It started with Atlas Oil, which immediately began deploying trucks in Texas. The team continued to work day and night to supply fuel to government agencies and contracted customers in Houston and quickly send additional trucks and drivers southeast when Irma made her way through Florida. Through wind, rain and treacherous road conditions, the drivers successfully delivered fuel to the areas that needed it most. As one of the top emergency fueling companies in the U.S., Atlas was able to deploy 79 trucks from around the country, making this the largest emergency fueling operation in the company’s history.
Just when the Atlas team began to wrap up the relief efforts in Texas and Florida, Maria made her way through Puerto Rico. Atlas quickly pulled together and within 24 hours deployed 19 trucks and drivers as well as the Atlas Cares RV to Puerto Rico. The trucks and RV will be stationed in Puerto Rico for a 30-60-day mission to restore the island’s infrastructure after a power outage affecting the entire country.
Meanwhile, VESTA Modular has also stepped up to the plate to help hurricane victims. As a modular company specializing in disaster relief, VESTA is providing temporary housing, offices and classrooms in the areas of Texas and Florida that were impacted the most. Temporary building solutions are often difficult to source during a natural disaster, but VESTA has an inventory of modular spaces that they are able to deploy immediately to help people in desperate need. One of their temporary office deployments included supplying a unit at Atlas’s damaged Victoria, TX office. As local schools, government agencies and FEMA continue to figure out the need for certain building solutions, VESTA continues to provide input, relief and support to help rebuild these facilities.
On top of providing temporary spaces, VESTA’s CEO Dan McMurtrie came up with another idea. He decided to purchase a bus, which was quickly transformed into the VESTA hurricane relief command center. The bus was packed with donations from local Michigan supporters including Laurie Cunnington, of Cunnington & Cunnington in Bloomfield Hills, school supplies from Clarkston Community Schools and boxes and boxes of children’s clothing from Rosa Lee, of My Urban Toddler in Ann Arbor. The donations included basic necessities such as clothing, blankets, food, water, toiletries, diapers, etc.
Clarkston students also wrote “letters for hope” for the victims.
The hurricane relief efforts of Atlas and VESTA not only reached their immediate customers and colleagues; their presence in Texas and Florida was leveraged by other areas of the SGH organization. For example, when Faiz Simon, Managing Director of Soaring Pine Capital, learned that seven assisted living communities in Florida were in dire need of fuel for their generators, he reached out to the emergency fueling team at Atlas, which was able to deploy trucks within hours.
The overall response from the team demonstrates the true SGH culture and core values. Every SGH team member possesses an inherent set of values that allows us to be tenacious, nimble and solution-driven in the face of adversity. The team rolled up their sleeves and put themselves on the front lines to deliver as much help as possible. But most importantly, we could not have done it without collaboration, communication and leveraging our connections across companies. It was truly a team effort.