Good Business is being a Part of Your Community

John G Smith

KIRKLAND, Wash.: Kenworth employees collected nearly 7,500 lbs. of food during a Kenworth Food Drive. The food was delivered to Northwest Harvest in Kent, Wash.

With files from Octavian Lacatusu.

Natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy have a habit of inspiring the humanitarian spirit in many of us. Here at Today’s Trucking, we’ve seen — and continue to see on a daily basis — how companies in the trucking industry have opened their hearts and wallets to the victims of Sandy’s wrath.

But instead of posting news of each donation separately, we decided to wait and compile a list of some of the industry’s biggest corporate entities that have expressed their support towards the ongoing relief over the last month and a bit. It’s by no means exhaustive, nor is it in any order of importance.

There are a couple of different schools of thought when it comes to giving. Some people — and companies — are more reactionary with their donations, much like we’ve seen with Sandy. That’s normal. And some companies will be vocal about their donations, too, each little donation accompanied with a press release, and that’s a good thing. It’s a way to not only raise awareness of disasters like Sandy, but to keep it in the front of our collective mind; our memories for what happened two months ago — politically, culturally, socially — in this day and age, aren’t the best. And, I think, telling people that you donated encourages others to do so.

The other school of thought is “Giving is just something we do.” While our intern, Octavian Lacatusu, was compiling the information below, I made a couple of calls to some OEs to get their thoughts on the matter. “Yes, we give,” a couple of media relations people told me, “but we prefer not to advertise it too much.”

Notably, a constant word that came up in these conversations was “community.”

And that, I think, is what this speaks to: community. Growing up in a trucking family, and in trucking towns, I know first hand how truckers volunteer, lend out their trucks to help, drive in the local parade… and in the last year, I’ve visited many companies, and saw their philanthropic initiatives in their local communities.

“Community” was also something that was stressed by people I interviewed for a recent story on how to survive a disaster (it’ll be in our January issue): every single person I spoke with, from disaster recovery specialists, to trucking companies, to FEMA, stressed that businesses and corporations are part of a community. “The faster a community gets back up and running, the faster money starts coming in the door,” one person said. And money coming in the door means people working, people getting paid, and people feeding their families.

— Jason Rhyno


Volvo

“While the headlines are tapering off, the hard work of recovery is very much ongoing, and we want to do our part,” said Dennis Slagle, Volvo Group executive vice president for trucks sales and marketing Americas.

On Nov. 26, the company announced it’s donating $100,000 in support to the disaster relief efforts, which is to be split into $50,000 to the American Red Cross, $25,000 to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and $25,000 to the City of Allentown, PA.

In their statement, Volvo said the New York City donation will help meet immediate needs for food, water and supplies and support long-term relief and restoration projects. Allentown will use the donation to replace the severely damaged roof of the Mack South Fire Station.

Mack

The city of Allentown, PA, will now be able to fix the roof of its Mack South Fire Station, thanks to a $25,000 donation on Nov. 21 from Mack Trucks.

“This storm hit very close to home,” said Kevin Flaherty, president of Mack Trucks North American sales and marketing. “The station provides critical services to the community, and we wanted to offer support to the city and the fire department as they manage through the repairs caused by this devastating storm.”

The roof of the building was severely damaged by winds during the storm, also making all four fire truck bays in the building unusable. According to a statement by Mack, the fire station is back in service, even though additional repairs to the facility are ongoing.

Navistar International

Dubbed “Operation Assist” Navistar launched a disaster relief program that will replace storm- damaged vehicles, as well as match employee and dealer contributions up to $50,000 to the American Red Cross.

“A lot of our customers still don’t know what they have or don’t have. So, we are getting trucks ready with different kinds of bodies and trying to figure out how quickly we can get things out there to help,” said Mike McMahon, vice president, used truck sales, Navistar.

The company also delivered 100 school buses to Amvoy School Bus in Staten Island, NY, in an effort to restore school bus service.

McMahon added by saying that in times like these, it’s more than just business.

“If people come to us and need help, we will figure out how to help them,” he said.

Paccar (Kenworth, Peterbilt)

Like various other corporate bodies, the company formed its own private foundation to support communities in need, whether in the face of poverty or disaster. Created in 1951, it has since been known as the PACCAR Foundation, annually working with community aid organizations such as United Way.

PACCAR’s other division, Peterbilt, is the largest single contributor to United Way of Denton County, TX, accounting for more than 25 percent of its total annual budget. In 2008’s fundraising campaign, Peterbilt employees contributed more than $450,000.

Paccar is also a huge contributor to education, especially in the engineer discipline.

Caterpillar (CAT)

Besides donating a firm one million dollars to the American Red Cross, a team of Cat employees (called First Response Team of America) mobilized to help restore power and clean up the hard hit areas on the eastern coast of the U.S. In New York City, portable industrial pumps were provided to dewater basements, subways, train tunnels and stations.

Cat said their team was able to give power to city hall with a generator, help those in need who were effected by the flooding and remove trees and debris to gain access to further affected communities. Support from the Caterpillar Foundation helped keep equipment fuelled and team members fed.

To support their customers, Cat Financial also implemented financial plans in order to help provide emergency funding to those affected.

Cummins

Cummins deployed 415 generators to provide temporary emergency power to hospitals, office buildings and homes devastated during Hurricane Sandy, accounting for a total of 215 megawatts of power.

“For immediate needs we are providing power to pump water out of flooded areas, as well as temporary power for lighting, heating and charging cell phones, which have now become the primary method for people to stay in touch,” said Saravanan Selvan, strategy and marketing manager of the global rental segment for Cummins Power.

Cummins said the end users of these generators also include FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the New York Port Authority, Bayer Pharmaceuticals and Sunny Delight Beverages Company.

Daimler (Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Western Star)

Daimler expressed their own support with the relief effort, donating one million dollars to the American Red Cross. MBUSA (Mercedes Benz U.S.A) made the donation on behalf of the Daimler Corporation.

“The devastation that Hurricane Sandy left behind will be felt for a long time in the communities in which we live and work,” said Steve Cannon, president and CEO, MBUSA. “It’s our hope that this donation can provide some small measure of relief for the families and businesses affected as the recovery and rebuilding begins.”

MBUSA has a significant presence in the Northeastern United States, with its headquarters and other facilities throughout New Jersey, including 83 dealerships throughout the Northeastern corridor.

Daimler said that in addition to monetary support, the company as a whole — all brands — were encouraged to join in the effort through direct donation to the Red Cross.

DUECO, Inc.

Dueco’s Pennsylvania branch team members mobilized to Long Island, New York, servicing trucks after responding to a call on Nov. 2. The company’s service technicians performed maintenance and repairs such as repairs such as changing filters, fuel pumps, lights and tires on damaged units.

“With all the hours and chaos, it’s quite an experience,” says DUECO service technician Leo Wade. “We’re doing a little bit of everything at the same time and the trucks are coming in bunches.”

As for shelter, Dueco said that during their first night out in the field, the service crew slept in their trucks, a pop-up camper in the wash bay of a customer facility, or in the parking lot when the garage was full with vehicles being serviced.

On Nov. 9, the company dispatched two more mechanics along with a rental camper to help in the effort.

John G Smith

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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