Last month, when in Bangkok, I was concentrating on the flooding there. This was really heartbreaking. We opened our home to three other families, to share with us. They all had their homes with between three and five feet of standing water on the first floor. It was amazing to see how everyone pulled together to get through this crisis.
I drove around and saw firsthand what it was like. I had come prepared. I flew in from Denver with three duffle bags of emergency equipment, such as chest high waders, life jackets, water purification kits, etc. I also had an inflatable boat flown in from America, in case we would need it. The most amazing thing was when, driving in a special high truck with a snorkel for the exhaust, we would be stopping to pick up hitch-hikers. These were locals, who needed to get to their flooded homes, with food, etc. The streets were not passable or even safe to walk in. We would let them jump on the bed of our truck, and we served as sort of a stopgap public transportation system. We would stop and let some off, while others would jump on. It felt good to be a real help to so many.
Our own factory was not flooded thankfully. It is a six story building, and we were prepared. Everything was moved up from the first floor, and sandbags were surrounding the building. I wanted to be sure our stores would get what they needed for our Christmas sales. But please don’t resent that comment. The reality is that we were able to keep over 70 people employed, and feel normal about life, in spite of the surrounding chaos. We converted one floor of our factory to allow those that desired to sleep there. We paid those that in fact lost their homes full wages, even if they could not come into work. The overall spirit was teambuilding…and given that the factory is American owned, it was particularly appreciated. We have a great team of skilled workers, and keeping them motivated is a primary duty that I have.
This trip really put things into perspective at a time of year when reflection comes naturally, and on that note I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.