A home-grown chain of grocery stores is teaching lessons in supplying the masses in times of crisis.
“I've been telling people over the last week, I don’t think our stores have ever looked worse, I don’t think our partners have ever worked harder, but I don’t think our customers have ever been happier,” said H-E-B Food/Drug President Scott McClelland.
H-E-B grocery stores successfully altered supply chains in order to meet the demand of a public preparing for the worst flooding the Gulf Coast had seen in modern history.
“So we manufacture our own bread in Corpus Christi and in Houston,” McClelland said. “So based off of where it was raining we would up the manufacturing in one area, or the other. And the other thing we did, instead of making every kind of bread, we would slow down the production to a limited number of items so that we wouldn’t have to change over the equipment.”
McClelland tells tales of heroism among H-E-B workers. Job titles no longer mattered and sometimes only five employees were there to open the stores; checkers and florists became cooks and stockers.
The League City H-E-B store became an impromptu shelter for first responders. One employee cooked steaks to feed emergency crews, then blew up kiddie pools for them to sleep on at night.
“Somehow and some way, whether you’re a $12-an-hour clerk or store manager, they found a way to get to work because they knew that they had to be there,” McClelland said.
H-E-B’s Gulf Coast stores are returning to normal, although a few noticeable shortages remain.
Snacks, which McClelland said have been in high demand both before and after the storm, are being replenished by Frito Lay tomorrow at the Buffalo Speedway location.
Eggs are still in short supply.
“Our supplier that’s down in Santa Fe lost 5,000 chickens in the flood,” McClelland said. “So that takes them out of production. That’s a lot of eggs. It adds up.”