FLASH FLOOD

Massey's Auto Parts Survives



Phil Massey said his business, Massey's Auto Parts, Inc., was half-covered in floodwater caused by massive Tennessee rains.

PHOTO: MARIABENTON.COM & MASSEY'S AUTO PARTS, INC.

Heavy rains deluged Nashville, Tenn. and the surrounding communities May 1 - 2. The heavy rainfall continued for 48 hours and caused rivers to swell out of their banks. The rain came so hard and fast - more than 17 inches total - that flood precaution systems were overwhelmed. Unfortunately, for Massey's Auto Parts, Inc., Millington, Tenn., that included a drain channel behind the facility. The channel, built after the near-legendary flood on Christmas Eve 1987, couldn't contain the rising waters.

At the time, Massey's Auto Parts owner Phil Massey was 300 miles away in St. Louis, Mo. enjoying a Cardinals major league baseball game. Luckily, he had a construction crew at the business working on a 4,500-square-foot expansion of the shipping and receiving department. At first, the crew thought the construction caused the rising water, but when it continued, they called Massey. He said his first thought was, "If it gets to the slab, save the server!"

The water did get to the slab, and then some. By the time general manager John Scheiwer reached the office, the water was already 4 feet deep and rising. Scheiwer, many employees, friends and family were able to save the server, about half the computer stations and paperwork before the water rose to 6 feet deep.

Massey's Auto Parts (MasseysAutoParts.com) didn't have flood insurance, and it wasn't alone. Local news reported only one Millington resident had insurance. Besides the business, the homes of four employees were devastated. Three rallied and rebuilt, but one decided to pack it up and move in with family in Mississippi.

Amazingly enough, in the wake of such a sudden disaster, Massey's Auto Parts was back in action on the following Monday (May 3).

"Everybody pulled together in a time of tragedy for us," explained Scheiwer, who added he couldn't thank the employees enough.

Thanks to the Millington Telephone Company, Massey's Auto Parts immediately set up a call center in the phone company's satellite office a couple of blocks away. "[Our building] didn't have power, but we were taking orders and selling parts," Massey stated.

After about a week, office staff moved into a rented 40-foot trailer, which served as home base for two weeks until the office and lobby were close to completion. Massey pointed out that office demolition required going down to the studs. "It was like starting over," he emphasized.

After cleanup, the biggest hurdle the business faced was restocking inventory. Massey said everything sitting below the 6-foot water level is gone. He estimated that to be about 30 to 35 percent of his entire inventory.

One bright side was QRP - Midwest. As a member of a nationwide, electronically linked salvage system, Massey's Auto Parts was able to cater to its customers' while the business was down.

"I was able to lean heavily on the group to supply inventory that I couldn't," Massey stated. "In this business you don't want to have to tell a customer you don't have something they need."

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