JUNO BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 9, 2005) — Tire Kingdom Inc. has reopened seven of its 20 stores in Louisiana and Mississippi that were closed after Hurricane Katrina blew through the area Aug. 28, but the firm is still trying to account for all its employees there.
Tire Kingdom President and CEO Orland Wolford said the dealership has located and accounted for 140 workers, which is a majority, but he wasn't sure how many are still missing. Many workers have shown up at TKI stores in other parts of the country for work, Mr. Wolford said.
“I guess some of them (in New Orleans) got in vehicles and didn't know where they were going until they got there. When they show up in a town, they just come to us,” he said. “Wherever that town is, we just put them to work and give them a place to stay.”
So far, Tire Kingdom, a subsidiary of TBC Corp., has determined that 16 of its 20 stores in Louisiana and Mississippi were impacted to some degree, including five or six in New Orleans that took “pretty substantial damage,” Mr. Wolford said. The status of a store in Mississippi is still unknown.
Seven of the stores had reopened as of Sept. 8. Ironically, Mr. Wolford said he had spoken with his CFO only recently on how Tire Kingdom is almost finished paying for damages incurred from four hurricanes that struck Florida last summer. All stores damaged from the 2004 storms are operational. Tire Kingdom parent TBC said it does not expect the present disruptions to have any material impact on its third quarter, which ends Sept. 30.
The company has set up an emergency center in Baton Rouge, La., which has emergency contact numbers displaced workers can use to call the headquarters in Juno Beach. TBC will be sending food, clothes, generators, equipment and other supplies to Baton Rouge and perhaps to other areas where its employees have fled. Mr. Wolford added that his human resources director is already at the center trying to get cash for everybody.