Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, Texas has opened two of his furniture showrooms to people displaced in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. One showroom is hosting 300(+) and the other 400(+). His in-store restaurants are serving these hurricane victims breakfast, lunch and dinner. He had some experience with this sort of thing during Hurricane Katrina where his showrooms housed about 200 people, he said "This made the decision much easier on Sunday night when it just kept raining," to CNN this morning.
More impressive, for those of us in the furniture industry, was his "recruitment" of people sheltering in his retail stores. He told CNN that he still has 3 people working for him who were hired after sheltering in his stores during Hurricane Katrina. He went on to say that he is working to help hire some of this current group to ensure that he isn't just meeting their immediate needs but also helping them get back on their feet. While most of us would be worried about the sheer amount of toilet paper necessary for this crowd, Mr. McIngvale is looking to their future (and frankly can you think of a better way to gain a loyal employee?).
Gallery Furniture's charming website tells the story of how he got fired from one job and ended up taking a job at a furniture store where he learned the business. Humble beginnings, as he eventually opened his own store, grew into a very successful Houston business. "Unique" is the one word that comes to mind over and over again as you read more about this businessman. For example, he and his employees gather every morning to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” to show goodwill towards the troops overseas. What a testament to what one business can do to continuously lead a community, not just in times of crisis.
Hopefully, Mr. McIngvale's example will lead the entire furniture industry to reach out to those victims in Houston who will have needs for many years to come. Also, some industry recognition is in order for this ambassador of our shared vocation. He is the best of us.
Jenny Nance has been in the furniture industry for 20 years in Human Resources. Her firm, Murjen Consulting, provides Human Resources executive-level resources for mid-size businesses. Her clients are based in the US with locations all over the world.