When Hurricane Sandy trudged ashore in October, she left a broad, $70 billion path of destruction in her wake. Sandy roamed between Jamaica and Puerto Rico and all the way from Florida to Maine, also pushing deeply into Michigan and Wisconsin. More than 250 deaths were attributed to the storm.
Just missed by the worst of Sandy’s wrath was Cranston-based Taco, Inc. “It looked at first like we were the bulls eye, but as fate would have it, we missed the worst of the assault,” said Johnny White, Taco’s president and CEO.
Taco, a leading developer and manufacturer of plumbing and hydronic-based heating and cooling equipment and accessories for use in residential, commercial and institutional applications worldwide, braced for the storm. The night the hurricane came ashore was a tense one for Taco’s 500-some employees.
Sense of urgency
“The next day, it was clear to us that we had a mandate,” added White. “We were spared by the storm’s worst, but there are huge areas, especially to our south and west that took the hurricane’s full hit, and they’ve still not recovered. Shortly after the storm, we met as groups within the company, and with our reps and wholesalers. It was immediately apparent that – because Sandy hit hard in hydronics country – we’d have to work hard to keep up with replacement orders.”
Among those eager to join forces with Taco to help with recovery and supply efforts was Greg Talbot, VP of sales for Wales-Darby, Inc., an Islandia, NY-based manufacturer’s rep firm.
Taco’s Steven Pearson, VP, OEM sales, and Ken Anderson, VP of sales, Northeast region, joined a group of industry representatives and contractors at Wales-Darby’s location in Islandia for a meeting hosted by Kevin Rooney, CEO, Oil Heating Institute of Long Island. Attendees included representatives from several oil heating companies and Hunter Botto, New York state PHCC president.
“It was a big meeting with a real sense of urgency and a lot of unanswered questions,” said Pearson. “The key items were: ‘How many homes are affected?’ ‘How many boilers need to be replaced?’ and ‘What’s the time-frame?’”
“We learned, among other things, that recovery efforts are now just the tip of the iceberg, and that more than 40,000 homes will require new heating systems – most of them hydronic. The meeting was helpful, but there were still big questions about how best to pitch in with the recovery,” said Talbot. “Obstacles are inevitable; our key task is to lessen their effect. Among the complications: there simply aren’t enough contractors, and homes need to be certified before they can be re-inhabited.”
“Our focus at Taco is to eliminate any bottlenecks in the pipeline,” said Anderson. “The focus is filling orders as quickly as we possibly can and to coordinate assistance wherever possible. The replacement work in Sandy’s wake has become a giant need, especially considering that winter is right around the corner.”
At Taco, the manufacturer’s employees are working overtime, and with overlapping shifts to meet the need for replacement products. Also, vendors were asked to expedite material and component shipments to meet the need.
“We set up a task force that meets daily to streamline the delivery of products into areas affected by the storm,” explained Todd Facey, Taco Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing. “We’re also working with many of our OEM partners to help them ramp up boiler production and shipments.”
Taco has also set a group on their FloPro Team Neighborhood to connect contractors affected by Sandy with other contractors around the country that are willing to provide assistance. Check it out at www.flopro.taco-hvac.com.