Business leaders often look over their shoulders trying to find the next disruptive player or event that will shake up their organizations. Well, in a matter of weeks spanning August to the beginning of September, the foodservice industry got a double dose of disruption.
The first disruptive event was Hurricane Harvey making landfall in southeast Texas. The devastation defied description, as coastal towns were torn to ribbons by the hurricane-force winds and the metropolitan Houston area experienced massive flooding.
As if the torrential torment Houston experienced was not enough, Mother Nature then turned her wrath on Florida in the form of Hurricane Irma. People were forced from their homes and the self-proclaimed happiest place on earth, also known as Disney World, went dark for a couple of days.
If there was a heartwarming outcome from all of this, though, it's the way individual members of the foodservice industry rose to the occasion. Members from the Association for Healthcare Foodservice rallied around their operator peers in the region by lending plenty of support. Franchisees from Dickey's Barbecue restaurants hooked smokers to the backs of their trucks and descended on the area to help feed those in need.
Knowing full well it would take a loss, Ace Mart Restaurant Supply reopened its five Houston locations days after the storm so the dealer's employees could have some form of normalcy and keep a paycheck coming during such turbulent times. Representatives from Mission Restaurant Supply went calling on customers, not to sell them, but to give them a hug and offer some moral support.
And, like so many other Texans, Bobak Mostaghasi from Jean's Restaurant Supply drove to Rockport, one of the hardest hit areas, to help with the cleanup.
And then there was Cooking Up Better Lives, a group established to bring the Excell and Nissco buying groups together to work on philanthropic initiatives. In the aftermath of the hurricanes, this group started a GoFundMe page to help dealers devastated by the storms.
All in all it was inspiring to see so many selfless acts from all corners of the foodservice industry — far too many to recount here. FE&S posted several online reports on Hurricane Harvey as it impacted our industry. And by the time you read this, our coverage of Hurricane Irma will undoubtedly be in full force.
The flood after the hurricanes took the form of other charitable endeavors to support the storm victims. Trying to support every cause you encounter is impossible. The reality is these efforts are all well intentioned so you can't go wrong in supporting any of them. The only mistake is not supporting any of them.
People in the foodservice industry like to say that whether they are an operator, dealer, consultant or even a manufacturer, their true role is to facilitate hospitality. And in its actions following these natural disasters, the foodservice industry certainly put its money where its mouth is.