[EDITOR’S NOTE: A version of this story first appeared in our September 20, 2017 e-newsletter. Responses are from mid-September.]
Interview with Angie Adams
Linron Company is a leading commercial flooring manufacturer and distributor based in Houston, Texas, and frequent contributor to Retail & Restaurant Facility Business magazine. Days after Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25, 2017, calls from our office to check on Linron went unanswered. In early September, we heard back. Angie Adams, Linron’s vice president of operations, told her story below:
R&R: You had to close completely, with headquarters in Houston. How did you guys get back up and running? Can you talk about your employees’ experiences?
Adams: On Thursday, August 24, we received an email from the owners that we would be closing the office on Friday, 8/25 to allow the employees to prepare for Hurricane Harvey. As Houstonians, we take it very seriously when a storm of that magnitude is heading our direction. Although, Hurricane Harvey was not hitting landfall in Houston, we were on the dirty side of the hurricane — which meant we were going to be hit very hard with tropical storm-type rain and forceful winds. By Sunday, the storm had increased and the rainfall was in buckets falling on every inch of the city. Tornadoes were touching down and destroying neighborhoods — we definitely had a huge, growing concern. All of our employees were safe in their homes and did not suffer any major damages but were stranded due to flooding in neighborhoods. One of our owners, Linda Krienke (the Lin to the Linron) was not quite so lucky. Linda was awakened on her birthday, Sunday morning 8/27 to a house full of water. Her first floor flooded in her home. She lost all of her belongings on the first floor, the garage and one vehicle. Our office and warehouse location was in good working condition but the roads were flooded all around the office and the city so traveling to the office was nearly impossible for several days. The first 3 days the employees worked from home until the water receded enough to get to the building. The owners stressed to the employees that safety was first and if they could not drive due to flooded roads to stay home. By Thursday, August 31, the office was back up and running with business as usual.
R&R: Given that you are in the flooring business, have retailers, restaurants and shopping centers needed your services? Are you in a position to assist?
Adams: With the complete devastation that Houston has endured due to the storm, we have all come together to work to get the city back up and running. “HoUSton Strong” and “Texas Strong” have literally become the vision for every Houstonian and Texan. We are all working together to get businesses (which include retailers, restaurants and shopping centers) back up and running, homes rebuilt and lives back on track. We have helped corporately as a company and individually to volunteer and make a difference in our community, city and state. Linron is a family owned company that prides itself on values and lending a helping hand. Linron Company has made generous contributions to businesses and families who have lost their homes, cars and belongings as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
R&R: What can retail/restaurant vendors and manufacturers do to help?
Adams: I believe the best advice that we can offer is to make yourself available to assist the retail/restaurant industry to get back on their feet whether it be financial contributions, donating material or volunteering time. Everyone is grateful for any assistance at this point.
R&R: Are you seeing retailers and restaurants bounce back? How long will it take, do you estimate?
Adams: [As of mid-September], the City of Houston officials were working diligently to get the major roads and highways back up and functional so that businesses could open their doors back up and employees get back to work. The Tuesday after the Labor Day holiday was literally a traffic nightmare for Houstonians to travel to work. I know personally it took me 4 hours to get to work due to so many highway and road closures. Many of our employees experienced many hours in the car to get to work and back home. With emotions running so high, we have all come to the realization that patience is going to be the key to rebuilding the city and we all just have to take one day at a time and continue to work together to make this happen. It will take time to get roads and highways open, time for businesses to be fully functional and time to go back to what we all know as normal. It’s difficult to give an exact timeframe as we are all working diligently to get back to the way it was before Hurricane Harvey. We are #HoUStonStrong #TexasStrong and together we will rebuild our city and come back even better than before.
R&R: With hurricanes arriving one after the other this fall, what advice can you give other businesses? Did you feel Linron was prepared, or was this storm simply unprecedented?
Adams: Linron Company was prepared for the worst-case scenario but even in that you just never know what a storm will bring until you live through it. When living in a state that is prone to hurricane activity all you do is prepare and pray for the best possible outcome. Our best advice to other businesses is ‘safety first’ and initiate an emergency program that will allow the company to work through the storm even if it’s working from home. Linron Company’s priority was to help others first, which meant make sure the employees were safe and help family members, neighbors and business get through the emotional phase and then through the rebuilding phase. Most importantly, stay safe and after the storm hits, assess the damage and jump in with both feet to get the business back up and running. Secondly, while you are maintaining your own business, volunteer and help another business to get back up and running as well. We are all in this togethe.
— Angie Adams is vice president of operations for Linron Company, a leading commercial flooring manufacturer and distributor based in Houston. Since 1993, Linron has provided floor covering for more than 18,000 retail stores covering 2.2 billion square feet. Linron’s flooring team also specializes in polished concrete, decorative overlayment, subfloor problems, moisture issues and flooring installation. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.