On September 21st 1999, a massive earthquake reaching 7.5 on the richter scale struck Taiwan killing thousands of people and leaving many thousands more without homes. On Saturday 25th September 1999, we received a phone call requesting help in supplying tents for disaster relief to go to Taiwan. It was a phone call late on a Saturday afternoon that started an amazing chain of events and a great team of people jumped to action.
The request was to gather as many tents as possible to despatch to Taiwan first thing on Monday morning. Quite a challenge to do with one days notice, and only a Sunday to do the work. Was it by chance the right person answered that call to say, “Yes we will make this happen!”. Saturday night was crazy, making many phone calls back and forth with various supply networks, logistics support people and client contacts to work out what could be done..
About 20 phone calls later, a plan was put into action. Through our network of amazing people we organised vehicles to travel to our stores across Sydney and collect as many tents as we could fit for the Monday morning deadline. In all 143 tents were collected and packed on Sunday, ready for the departure from Sydney airport at 8am Monday morning. The team were proud of making this happen on such short notice, but the greater challenge was yet to come…
On Monday morning at 7.30am the phone began ringing again. Our charity partners, the Tzu-Chi Foundation in Sydney, were very impressed with what we managed to do for them in such a short amount of time. Their expression of thanks was followed by a request and a challenge far greater than the first. We were asked to supply 2000 more tents to go to Taiwan. But there was a significant challenge and catch.
The Tzu-Chi Foundation had secured a donation to provide a free cargo flight from Sydney to Taipei to provide goods for disaster relief. This was great news. However, the flight was leaving Sydney airport the following day at 2pm ! How were we ever going to gather 2000 tents to be at Sydney airport in 24 hours ? The phone was running hot once again and our team jumped into action.
Justin Kerley was on the job and began the enormous logistical challenge to negotiate a deal with all parties to provide 2000 tents in time. The phone didn’t stop. Tents were gathered from two states from various warehouses and store locations. These had to be collated within four hours, with a network of people and trucks set to action. Then all these tents had to be collated, counted, packaged and put on a 40 foot semi-trailer and sent on an overnight express transport trip to arrive at Sydney International Airport at 1pm – allowing 1 hour for the freight to be cleared through Australian Customs to go to Taiwan.
Over a 36 hour time frame starting late on Saturday afternoon, our team managed to supply 2143 tents to go to Taiwan to provide disaster relief for the earthquake victims. This challenging task was achieved with time to spare. Many would have said it couldn’t be done. But a dedicated team, and a strong work ethic to give up their Sunday and Monday to organise, plan, pack and transport these tents in time, made this happen. What an incredible achievement. The team were greeted at Sydney International Airport by a team of journalists to document the achievement. Congratulations to everyone involved. An incredible focus to deliver extraordinary customer service in meeting a very strict deadline. The phone bill during this 36 hour period amounted to $648.55.