More Katrina updates...reps and distributors feeling the punch

Yesterday I called a colleague of mine, like me born into the family rep business, Brian Gardner, formerly of Breard-Gardner in New Orleans, to see how he was faring. Brian moved on a few years ago to create the only customer relationship management system that is optimized for manufacturers reps and distributors of technical products: Selltis. He was able to get Selltis back up and running within a few days of the hurricane, by moving his servers outside of southern Louisiana. He will likely not move them back, just like DirectNIC is going to relocate their server farm as well. "It's just chaos, here," Gardner says. "The whole infrastructure is gone. Most small reps and distributors are out of business. Larger ones, who had offices in Baton Rouge, or Houston, are keeping going and restocking from there, but even Baton Rouge is a madhouse. It just doubled in population, see." Many refineries and chemical plants are up and working, but some are finding that things are not as good as first they thought. There are quite a few oil platforms in the Gulf that are missing, presumed sunk. Thompson Equipment Backs and Fills I received this the other day and I thought it so perfectly presented what was going on that I'm going to print most of it: ----- Message from Bruce Thompson on Mon, 12 Sep 2005 17:58:53 -0400 ----- To: Client of TECO Subject: Thompson Post Katrina Plans MEMORANDUM Monday, September 12, 2005 To our valued customers/friends, During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls." Last week it was impossible to even imagine that we would be living in such times, yet fate has determined otherwise. We are all grieving for each other, our communities, our loved ones, our neighbors and our customers. Nevertheless, we are determined to continue to provide you, our valued customers, with the same professional level of service that has defined TECO for six decades. We are in our third generation as a family business and now more than ever our family takes in a much larger circle of people with whom we share our common fate. Post Katrina Update. 1) Our first order of business was and is to find all of our employees and their families safe and to provide whatever assistance we can to help them. I am pleased to report that we have accounted for all of our employees but one at this time. Many have returned to work to begin the rebuilding process of our city and gulf coast communities and customers. 2) Our emergency plan for transfer of affected functions, including website, email, communications, order entry, and customer support has been tested to its limit. Considering the magnitude of this disaster our plan has worked almost flawlessly. Communication is our biggest challenge. Cellular and line switches have been flooded, crippling 504 and 985 exchanges. We have established many new cell numbers and direct connection radios with all key employees. Our website,, is being updated on an ongoing basis to provide information to you and our employees. 3) Our facilities have miraculously suffered no damage. In New Orleans we are located one block upriver from the Orleans Parish line in Jefferson Parish. We are one block from the Mississippi River on one of the highest points in the area. Telephone service is operable albeit difficult for outgoing calls; incoming calls seem to be totally operable. Our electrical service is operating, as well as water and sewerage services. 4) Our employees are being issued emergency passes so that TECO can provide critical products and services to our affected customers in areas inaccessible to the general public. Our Baton Rouge operation has secured an additional 2500 square foot facility to ensure normal freight services until such time as Jefferson is operating routinely. Our shipments are being received at the following address: Thompson Equipment Company 8784 South Choctaw Drive Baton Rouge, LA 70815 Our Mail is being received at the following address: Thompson Equipment Company 2638 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. Suite 215 Baton Rouge, LA 70816 5) Our Customer Service Representatives are working out of our Baton Rouge facility and getting to know each other much better due to the close quarters. Phone 225-293-6663 Fax 225-293-6673. Our Sales Engineers are on the road (where there are roads) to determine how they can help you get back online, through any of the quality products TECO represents or for repair of existing equipment knocked out by Katrina. Please ask about any of your needs; we have been in this industry for a long time and have many contacts and resources, if we don't handle what you need directly, we will help you locate it. Therefore, please ask us. 6) Our principals have been extremely supportive during this time of need and are mobilized to support both you and us. One example of that commitment is the mobilization of additional technical support and field technicians to assist in the start-up of equipment damaged or replaced. Our product line sheet is attached. If you are unable to reach us please don't hesitate to contact any of our principals direct and advise them you are calling for equipment or services they provide through Thompson Equipment so that our offices will be copied on correspondence and credits for your orders. They have assured me that credits to the company will be handled appropriately, even in those cases where we act as a distributor, if you advise them you want to purchase through us. I don't know how they are doing that, but we are extremely grateful for that and other support. 7) Our national and international customers may experience a delay of service (we have lost one week at this time), which we are working hard to minimize. We have been taking calls from Baton Rouge, assembling products, and transporting products to Baton Rouge. We ask for your understanding as we work through the logistics; however, we are in a position to respond to delivery requests and to shift some effort to support an important need of yours. Technical support continues to be available 24/7 @ 504-439-1062. In summary, I will be updating you from time to time as our situation changes and progresses. We are all going through an extremely challenging period and I look forward to personally answering your questions about the city, the coast, what went wrong, and what went right; however, in the meantime, I believe that the best therapy for us is good old fashion work. Please help us by allowing us to do what we have done best for six decades - give great service. In that way, we will know we are helping you in your time of need"¦and that is our mission. With warmest personal regards, I am, Sincerely, Bruce H. Thompson, President Thompson Equipment Co., Inc. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other relief organizations still need YOUR help! Please donate! Walt