Irma Strikes Southeast U.S., Disrupts Promo Firms

Hurricane Irma has weakened to a tropical depression after blasting south and central Florida with heavy rains and powerful winds earlier this week. ASI estimates as many as 1,870 listed distributors and 210 listed suppliers have been affected in Florida alone, with the areas hit hardest representing $1.2 billion in promo product sales for 2016. Both suppliers and distributors reported closures and disruption amid extensive flooding and sweeping power loss.

>> List of companies affected by Irma

Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125), based in Largo-FL, closed on Monday, but escaped the worst of the storm. “There are some down trees and some sign damage, but thankfully, nothing of substance to report at this point,” said Eric Shonebarger, chief information officer at Hit. “Information systems are 100% functional with the exception of our site-to-site communication links, which we have a workaround we can implement within 24 hours.”

Michael R. Levitt, president of Fort Lauderdale-based MRL Promotions (asi/258137), said there were “flooded streets, trees down, a curfew still in effect and the power is out.” The company has been closed since last Thursday and most likely won’t reopen until Wednesday.

SoBe Promos’ (asi/245603) Miami office is closed, but a few employees are working remotely from South Carolina. “We got some serious damage in the area, so we’re figuring everything out at the moment,” said Chris Ferriter, vice president of sales.

Top 40 supplier BIC Graphic (asi/40480) shut down its Clearwater, FL, facilities on Monday and temporarily suspended 24-hour service. The company also extended standard production time by three working days on all product lines. Miami-based Bullet (asi/42424) was closed on Monday and will remain closed on Tuesday “due to mandatory curfews and closed roads,” the company said.

Other industry companies that closed on Monday include Orlando, FL-based Carpe Diem Sales & Marketing (asi/158580), Port St. Lucie, FL-based IDProductsource (asi/62088), Continental Plastic Card Inc. (asi/46460) in Pompano Beach, FL, Water Safety Products (asi/355658) in Indian Harbour Beach, FL, Logo Mats (asi/67849) in LaGrange, GA, and Vapor Apparel (asi/93396) in Charleston, SC. Smart Source of Georgia LLC (asi/328914) closed its Pembroke Pines, FL, office as well.

More than 6.2 million people (more than 60% of the state) lost power in Florida, state officials said. Officials report at least 11 people have died since the storm’s arrival in Florida, adding to the death toll of at least 27 across the Caribbean. About 6.5 million people in southern Florida were ordered to evacuate their homes ahead of the storm. Nearly 200,000 were housed in shelters during the storm, federal officials said. Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina have all issued a state of emergency.

Irma made landfall on the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm had maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour as of Monday morning, when a record storm surge hit Jacksonville, FL, exceeding the previous record set by Hurricane Dora in 1964. The heaviest rain is now expected to spread north and west into northern Georgia, the western Carolinas and Tennessee, as well as Alabama and northern Mississippi, the NHC said.