The Home Depot operates one of the largest and most intricate supply chain networks in retail – and that’s on a normal day. A hurricane creates a whole new level of complexity.
“People don’t really understand the magnitude of the supply chain response when a hurricane is happening,” says Johnathan Flores, supply chain HR manager. He manages the Supply Chain Disaster Travel Team that mobilizes associates quickly when there’s a need. In 2018, nearly 500 associates were part of the team.
Moving essential supplies means working 24/7 in distribution centers. On site, a dedicated team of carriers are ready to help move all the product. Further support to the Supply Chain Disaster Travel Team comes from a group of warehouse associates that travel on short notice to support other facilities.
“It’s unique. I don’t know that anybody supports supply chain quite like this during a disaster,” says Travis Lawrence, vice president of supply chain human resources.
In the wake of Hurricane Florence’s devastation, 75 additional associates helped the Savannah, Georgia, distribution center for several weeks.
Home Depot stores have been assembling travel teams since 2004, after several hurricanes impacted Florida. In comparison, the supply chain travel team is only a few years old.
“Our stores and customers depend on us to have everything they need to get them through a hurricane,” says Vicki Peterson, human resources manager for the McDonough distribution center. “With the extra help they standup extra shifts and move more product.”
The Supply Chain Disaster Travel Team also aids warehouse associates who take time off to repair their homes after a hurricane. In 2017, more than 100 associates traveled to Houston to do just that.
“Part of what we’re doing is business continuity, but we’re also living our values,” Jonathan says. “If we didn’t have this travel team, we wouldn’t be able to help our peers.”