Special Report: Hurricane Katrina1 Oct, 2005 By: Thomas Haire Response
Oreck Leads the Way as DR Industry Responds to Hurricane Katrina
Companies large and small throughout the direct response industry showed an outpouring of generosity and assistance toward the victims of Hurricane Katrina by making charitable donations and offering their services.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, center right, talks with Oreck family members (from left) Bruce Oreck, Tom Oreck, and company founder David Oreck about the re-opening of their plant in Long Beach, Miss., on Sept. 9. Five hundred people who work at the Oreck vacuum factory reported back to work that day.
No company on the DR landscape was more affected by Katrina — nor responded as admirably — as the Oreck Corp., the New Orleans-based housewares company that was featured on Response's July 2004 cover. With corporate offices in New Orleans and production facilities in Long Beach, Miss. — near the devastated city of Gulfport — Oreck took a direct hit from Katrina.
However, by Sept. 1 — three days after the storm passed through — Tom Oreck, the company's president and CEO, announced the company was not only bringing temporary housing, generators, food, water and medical supplies to its Long Beach employees, but also that the company would continue to provide paying jobs for all Oreck employees who "lost everything to Katrina."
The company publicized a toll-free number (888-528-0088) for employees to call and begin receiving assistance from Oreck Corp. On Sept. 9, 500 employees returned to work at the company's Long Beach plant.
Tom Oreck says, "Working with UPS, we will bring trucks of food, water and supplies into the Gulfport and Long Beach area. Those same trucks will haul our products out to (still-operating) Oreck retail stores and make deliveries of those products purchased at our stores and through our other business partners. My dad founded this company 40 years ago, and I'm not going to let a hurricane destroy what he created."
At the same time, Phoenix-based InPulse Response Group, a teleservices partner withOreck, took in 30 Oreck employees, holding a clothing drive for them and putting them up at a local Marriott — making sure rooms were outfitted with microwaves so that the victims could cook food purchased with a $100 gift card donated to each by Basha supermarkets.
The 30 employees (mostly managers, trainers and salespersons) were given work by InPulse, answering phone calls for Oreck products in the call center. "We also treated them to a suite at Bank One Ballpark for an Arizona Diamondbacks game, a trip to the Mesa Southwest Museum and a night at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater," says Eric Stracener, InPulse's vice president of sales.
Other DR Leaders Help Katrina Victims
- 1. The Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Committee on Social Responsibility collected donations and collaborated with the DMA Non-Profit Federation to expedite the delivery of relief funds.
- 2. QVC and its vendors raised $3 million for the American Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund. QVC also initiated a program that matches employee donations and also began selling an "awareness ribbon pin" supporting the victims of Katrina, the proceeds of which will go to the Red Cross hurricane efforts.
- 3. The Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) made a contribution to the Red Cross and urged all members to do likewise.
- 4. hawthorne direct inc. in Fairfield, Iowa began a series of donations that will "total in the tens of thousands of dollars to various relief efforts," according to Timothy R. Hawthorne, president and executive creative director.
- 5. Take2 Direct in Santa Ana, Calif., is donating 10 percent of all production revenue from Sept. 1-Dec. 31 to the Red Cross hurricane relief fund.
- 6. Los Angeles-based WorldLink LLC, Christopher Morgan Fulfillment Services in New Berlin, Wis., and Response Magazine's parent company, Questex Media Group, are matching all employee contributions to theRed Cross.
- 7. Huntersville, N.C.-based NewRoads is not only matching donations but providing collection centers in all locations for donated supplies.
- 8. AMSFulfillment of Valencia,Calif., donated at least one container truck full of its clients' donated goods to be shipped directly to affected areas.
- 9. Teleservices leader LiveOps donated the services of 300 telephone agents to the American Red Cross to help reconnect more than 10,000 people to family members.