As Hurricane Matthew moves toward the U.S., industry companies are taking precautions ahead of the Category 4 storm. The hurricane’s projected path has both distributors and suppliers in multiple states shutting down operations and shoring up their facilities.
Bullet (asi/42424) closed its Miami facility at noon on Thursday and it will remain closed on Friday. Both Port St. Lucie, FL-based IDProductsource (asi/62088) and Laser Light Engraving (asi/66455), which is based in Savannah, GA, were closed Thursday and Friday with plans to return to normal business hours on Monday.
Chris Ferriter, vice president of sales at SoBe Promos (asi/245603), says all employees were sent home on Wednesday. “Our neighborhood in Miami, Wynwood, has really bad flooding issues so we've made sure to sandbag all entrances to the office and make sure everything in the office is off the floor,” Ferriter said. “We've also used social media and email blasts to let customers know that we are closing down and that the hurricane will most likely cause delayed orders. We've also had to make a ton of adjustments to our inbound shipments to customers because they're also closing down.”
Vapor Apparel (asi/93396) closed its Charleston, SC, warehouse for Thursday and Friday while corporate employees worked remotely. The company’s manufacturing facility in Union, SC, located about 170 miles from the coast, remains in full operation. “We have a well-established hurricane preparedness plan that is part of the company’s standard operating procedures,” said Christopher Bernat, co-owner of Vapor Apparel. “We were prepared to ship through Thursday, but UPS suspended package services for the Charleston region on Wednesday. We have weather-protected the equipment from the print division to protect against any major storm surges or roof issues that may occur. We anticipate normal service and a few extra packages going out the door barring any major electrical grid issues.”
Not everyone is suspending operations – Eyevertising (asi/57371) is keeping its Miami facility open as long as the shipping companies are still operating. “We know the majority of our clients are not in the South Florida area so they’ll still need their sunglasses,” Eyevertising COO Victoria Newton-Dunn said. “Aside from finalizing our production for the week, our team is insuring our facility is ready to take on Matthew. We’re hoping it’s just some heavy rain, a little wind, and we can be back in the office on Monday.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has urged residents to evacuate as 1.5 million people in south Atlantic coastal areas could be in grave danger. Scott said Florida is expecting heavy rains up to eight inches and winds of about 125 miles per hour. A State of Emergency has also been issued for South Carolina as well as 30 counties in Georgia. Eastern coastal areas can expect storm surge from five to nine feet above ground level with large waves towering above that level, the National Weather Service reported.
As of 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, the hurricane was posting maximum winds of 140 miles per hour, according to The Weather Channel.