Illustration 19276996 / Dirk Erck / Dreamstime
Iillustration 19276996 / Dirk Erck / Dreamstime
Illustration 60886103 / Kheng Ho To /Dreamstime

G&G's Larry Heimrath on how his company is handling the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Nov. 5, 2012
Larry Heimrath, owner of G&G Electric has been doing a heckuva job keeping us posted on how his company on W. 24th St. in the Big Apple has been handling the impact of Hurricane Sandy, and this morning he sent these photos of G&G employees in action. ...
Larry Heimrath, owner of G&G Electric has been doing a heckuva job keeping us posted on how his company on W. 24th St. in the Big Apple has been handling the impact of Hurricane Sandy, and this morning he sent these photos of G&G employees in action.

His postings offer a fascinating glimpse into not only how a small business operates in an emergency situation, but also into how a Joe Fusco, the young company president, is handling a major crisis. As you can probably tell from the tone of Larry’s previous postings, Larry is justifiably proud of how Joe is managing the business. You can learn a lot about what’s really important in a business by how it operates in crisis mode, and we thank Larry for providing such fascinating insight into his business.

Here’s what he had to say about how things are going over the past few days:

Monday, Nov. 5

It's Monday morning and we are up and running with a full staff. We are focusing on the acquisition of material to sell. Business is brisk, but I am concerned about payments. Material is needed and available. However, as always I remain concerned about the funds to run the circus.”

Sunday, November 4

I arrived two hours after opening somewhat concerned. Joe, a big boat guy with a new boat injured in the storm, needed to take his craft to Connecticut. for repair. Despite a competent and independent staff I was anxious about being in charge. I was also concerned about Joe taking so long a trip in a damaged vessel.

Happily, I arrived at G&G to find business bustling and not requiring my help. I was particulary impressed by Bobby Rivera, who grew up on the Spanish Lower East Side and has worked for G&G for the last 16 years. Starting in the warehouse, he has become a key employee and has learned an awful lot. Mega Watt Electric, a Florida-based firm working for FEMA contacted Bobby regarding a $110,000 wire order on an ASAP basis. Masterfully, Bobby got the order through arranging pick from our warehouse and Brazill Brothers -- All this while arranging for payment on an Amex. It was wonderful to watch him in action, and I was suddenly comfortable in Joe's absence.

“Reflecting on the past few days, I can take great satisfaction in Joe and a very competent staff. At an early age I had great success owing to an ability to hire and manage a great staff. Joe clearly has learned the trick. It seems like it was just yesterday that I instructed him in the value of staff development and delegation of authority. Joe certainly continued a great tradition from which he should reap great benefit.”

Saturday, Nov. 3

I arrived at G&G about 9 a.m. and Joe and the staff were already in full swing. Efforts were already under way to enter orders from Thursday and Friday into the computer. I was happy to see the miracle of electricity. I went to my lit office and viewed my e-mail. Frankly, I was glad to see Joe running the show. In all honesty, the storm and its aftermath drained my vitality. I found myself in envy of Joe's youth and vigor. After a moment of thought my envy turned to gratitude. could not handle the crisis as well as Joe and could only feel satisfaction in his competent handling of all affairs.

“Saturday business was brisk and customers were grateful that we were available. Our rep, Brazill Brothers, managed to get us wire, which went out the door as fast as it came in. Joe found a source (panelboard builders) of large fuses (2,000A-6,000A low peak) which were in demand. Services throughout the water-logged parts of the city needed fuses, contact cleaner along with large size wires and wire connectors. Generators were still being used in parts of the city were power was not available, or in places where there was power that could not be brought into a building owing to damage to the building distribution system. One of the most precious items is the male L14-20 and L14-30 twist-lock plugs which are standard for small and medium size generators. Joe was clever and managed to acquire about 300 hundred on Friday...Selling like hot cakes....Should readers need some please have them call (212-243-0051) as we can probably spare 100 pieces.

G&G employees seem to have a great sense of camraderie. For three generations, we have had this spirit and Joe has only increased this feeling in the fourth generation, which is no small accomplishment with 43 employees. My computer consultant, brother-in-law Stevie Egger (retired NYPD Detective) kept our computer system going on a 24-hour basis.

"Joe came up with an idea to modify our Web page to indicate our extended hours. I was less enthusiastic. However, Joe called our Web guy, Barry Brothers of 2BMedia, who made the modification in minutes. In 15 minutes customers appeared indicating the web site info as the reason for their appearance. Joe made a wise decision, and the benefits were indeed felt on Sunday.

“I left on Saturday happy to have power restored and happy for the business. As I rode my bike back to Brooklyn, I began to worry about our receivables. Like all other supply houses in our area, G&G essentially provides short-term loans in the form of electrical materials. Despite the joy of increased business from the destruction of Sandy, I have lived long enough to know the difficulty of collecting monies from electrical contractors in the aftermath of tragedy. In fact, many of our customers lost homes and have shops underwater. How will they settle their debts while needed more materials?

Friday, Nov. 2

Although we still lack power, our 5,700W generator (which Larry nicknamed “Electra") has been put to good use. Today, we brought up two additional computers for a total of three. Our staff is great. Everyone got to work and there was no shortage of customers in need. Biggest problem has been the acquisition of fuel for our trucks which not only delivered needed materials but delivered our employees to G&G. The fuel was also needed to operate our generator.

I left G&G at 6:30 p.m. to ride my bike home to Brooklyn. At Houston St., I saw a large lit sign and mentally questioned the use of a generator & gas for simple advertisement. Then I saw lit traffic lights and realized the power was on. I immediately called Joe at G&G, which still had no power. My wife Maryann called my cell 15 minutes later indicated that her answering machine at work was responding. Maryann is a psychotherapist with an office above mine at GG....Always good to have a therapist nearby in our industry.....Clearly power was back and we would have an active weekend of business.”

“Joe immediately arranged for staff to be at G&G on Saturday and Sunday, while calling as many customers as possible alerting them to our full operation on Saturday & Sunday...Best of all the wire machine, full computers, and internet would all be available.”