By Mike O’Neil
Executive Vice President – East Coast Operations
As we approach the end of the year, I’ve been reflecting on our accomplishments and challenges of FY13. The year was filled with plenty of both. What really sticks out in my mind is this company’s performance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The commitment, dedication, teamwork, and leadership was incredible.
It’s been about seven months since Hurricane Sandy tore through New York and New Jersey. The effects of it will be felt by many for a long time and it would be impossible for me to accurately put into words its impact and destruction. The community and team work displayed thereafter was completely overwhelming, and something I’ll never forget.
I remember the days leading up to the storm. No one thought it would be as bad as it was. Even the direst warnings were not as dreadful as the reality of that storm. The New York branch was devastated. Still structurally standing, but heavily damaged. Water levels rose to three to four feet high in all interior areas. Water marks on the outside of the building were over six feet high. Most of our inventory was lost or needed significant repair. The damage was overwhelming and almost unexplainable.
Unfortunately, we did not have time to feel sorry for ourselves. We had to quickly get control of the situation – we had events to produce. In the days, and weeks following the storm not one event canceled. Every single employee in the New York branch was personally impacted by this storm. But somehow, some way, everyone was able to put all that aside and (at the risk of sounding corny) make the impossible possible!! I have never seen anything like it! The leadership, the loyalty, the dedication, the drive and the refusal to fail was unmatched. I was overwhelmed by each person’s unwavering commitment to move forward.
As I walked the floor at these shows, I couldn’t have been more proud of the New York team; I still get goose bumps just thinking about it. This was such an emotional time for everyone and for our team to be able to put all that aside to produce these events speaks volumes about their character and their dedication.
It’s times like these that you appreciate being part of a big company, like Freeman, that can bring resources together in such a short time to keep business running.
This company has great technology, great resources and great products. But, it’s our people who make all the difference. There are so many people and departments that helped us get through this but we could not have done it without the unbelievable support we received from our Washington D.C., Boston and Atlanta Branches. Our Customer Support Center, who managed calls from exhibitors, were handling hundreds of calls per day and doing so much more to support our team. Our Risk Management and distribution center staffs were exceptional. These teams really took a leading role in ensuring our employees and our customers were taken care of. It was a true Freeman effort!
Additionally, we are thankful to our customers – our show management partners, our exhibitors and the attendees – for their understanding and cooperation while we worked through the devastation.
Finally, and most of all, I want to thank the Freeman New York team. As much as I try to put my thoughts on paper, there is just no way possible anything I write could neither accurately explain how I feel nor recognize and thank you all for all your efforts! I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you.
- Mike O’Neil is Executive Vice President – East Coast Operations
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Tags: engagement, industry, Leadership, Technology, Trade Shows
This post was written by Freeman