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From the field: Arnold Motor Supply rises to challenge in aftermath of Iowa floods

The following is a report from Eric M. Johnson, President and Managing Partner at Arnold Motor Supply, of the impact of the recent floods

Tomorrow Arnold Motor Supply in Spencer will be open for business. Open for business, but not yet business as usual. Eighteen days ago, the Spencer community was hit with devastation unlike anything I’ve seen. Last week while we were moving rapidly toward reopening, I was speaking with a group of our team assembled in the Distribution Center and told them I wished the rest of the community, and our industry at large, could really appreciate what they were accomplishing. It is amazing.

Eric M. Johnson

The FEMA representatives who toured our Distribution Center last week likened the disaster to hurricanes Hugo or Katrina. Today, eighteen days later, there are still parts of the community without power. Four of our five buildings in Spencer were completely flooded and the fifth was unreachable by car for two full weeks. I believe forty-five of our associates suffered the loss of significant belongings, vehicles, and in some cases entire homes. Amid all that, the team showed up and got stuff done. In the beginning they were mucking out aisles of destroyed product in the dark; armed with head lamps, shovels and squeegees. There was no electricity, or sewer, and the floors were slick, they had to walk as though walking on ice. Tractors with loaders were hauling trash to the curb as those inside shoveled it off loading docks.

All of this was happening simultaneously at the Merrill Company distribution center and the Arnold Motor Supply store across the street. Following behind the crews hauling damaged inventory came the pressure washers, squeegees and floor scrubbers. While all of this was happening, the offices were being emptied and gutted and the search began for a temporary office home. We began scouring the region for vehicles to replace the twenty-two lost or damaged in the flood. Through it all, we worked to make this as invisible as possible to our customers, the businesses and individuals who rely on us to get the job done for them.

To my knowledge, the last time Arnold Motor Supply was not operating in Spencer was 1931 when it was lost to fire and had to be rebuilt. Just like nearly a century ago, we’ll use folding tables and a temporary location to get back to business. Just like nearly a century ago, we’ll emerge on the other side as strong as ever because that is what great companies do.

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