Fandeck of Features
By Contributing Writer, Kristin Summer
By Contributing Writer, Mark Woodman
Palette of Departments
By Hans Mugler, Publisher
By Hans Mugler,
Looking For Higher Ground
As manager of a small business, I feel I can relate to many of the problems faced by our readers, paint and sundry store owners and managers. There are pitfalls with any business as you know…from pricing issues to customer relations, from stocking the right products to fighting off the competition, our readers seem to be constantly fighting the good fight while trying to keep their heads above water, but it’s the water I never thought could be so damaging to my business.
If you were paying attention to the headlines at the end of December and early January, you know that the St. Louis metro area had some major flooding issues to deal with, as did many other parts of the nation. Many of us, a month later, are still dealing with those issues. Many of us who live on higher ground didn’t think the flooding would affect us, it’s not like the entire metro area was under water, just certain parts that honestly, are known to flood. Even though the world HQ for Mug Pub Inc. sits on high ground in St. Louis County, the area flooding has wreaked havoc on our business.
Our two sales reps, Sue and Melissa, were highly affected when the Mississippi, Missouri, and Meramec Rivers all left their banks and flowed with destructive force. The house where Sue was living took on about three feet of water on the first floor. Melissa’s home may be, and probably will be, forever gone. The two lived nearby each other in West Alton, MO., a small, quiet river town nestled near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. One day things are fine and the levies are holding firm, the next day they get notice of a mandatory evacuation, 4 hours to get out of dodge! Sue was planning on moving into a new home just before the evacuation, so it was easier for her to pack and leave because much of her stuff had already been boxed up. Melissa, her husband and their two kids, and her aging father simply grabbed what they could as floodwaters began lapping at their doorstep.
Luckily for Sue, she was able to get into her new house a week early. Melissa was not as fortunate. Even though she had flood insurance, getting FEMA or any government agency to work quickly is simply impossible. Where to go? Where to sleep at night? Will I ever see my house again or will it be rubble? Thankfully, after spending a few days crammed into a relative’s home, Melissa and her family found a place to rest their heads…at Sue’s new place, which now houses 12 people in a home built for 4!
The point of all of this is what, as a small business owner or manager, can you do to help your employees when major tragedies strike? I have felt helpless much of the last month! I want to help my employees any way I can whenever I can, because that’s part of what being a family-owned business means to me. But how do you take all their collective fears, the time it takes to fill out the endless government paperwork and make the multitude of phone calls that have to be made for housing, insurance, money, etc., the lost memories and mementos… how do you take that off your employees shoulders so they can concentrate on their jobs? You can’t really, at least not much.
In the coming days, Melissa will hopefully get some good news, maybe even a place she can call home, and we can all get back to the business of selling ads for our magazines. In the meantime, thanks to each and every one of our advertisers this month who stepped up to help us out and support the independents! God willing and the rivers don’t rise…again, we’ll see you all next month with bigger and better magazines!!
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