Industry members across the country have recognized the need for immediate aid as well as long-term planning and assistance to help those in their community whose lives, jobs and business have been affected after Hurricane Katrina destroyed areas of the Gulf Coast region in late August.
Undetermined numbers of companies, employees and their families have been displaced, with business operations relocated to remote offices or shutting down completely until further notice. But according to the NSCA alone, 60 NSCA member companies in the affected regions had "undeliverable" addresses as of September 6.
Realizing the urgency of the situation, companies are looking for a structured way to help their colleagues. In a conference call hosted by NSCA president Randy Vaughan and NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson on September 6, NSCA announced it has joined with ICIA and CEDIA to plan support for members of their associations and industry who are in need. "Doing nothing is just not an option here," said Wilson. Wilson added that the association efforts would be carefully planned to not duplicate other larger relief efforts, and to not create administrative complications among or between affected companies. "Men and women of our industry don't want charity," noted Wilson, "but assistance to rebuild their lives and businesses."
Upon suggestions and concerns raised by manufacturers and members during the call, the associations have set up an electronic systems industry relief website, which can be accessed through each of the associations' main websites. Since many displaced persons in the Gulf Coast area have had opportunities to access the Internet, association leaders felt this was the quickest route to help. Message boards are available for companies with temporary and subcontracting positions to offer; sources of housing, equipment and other urgent resources; status on companies and workers in the region; and news and contact information.
"This is not just another fundraising relief effort," said Randy Vaughn in the September 6 conference call, "but an effort to drill down to the needs of people."
Randy Lemke, executive director of the ICIA was also on the conference call, and outlined some of the ICIA's efforts to assist. ICIA's efforts will include job matching, matching of Red Cross contributions, waiving dues renewals for ICIA members affected, and a special scholarship program for candidates from the affected region.
Many manufacturers are joining the effort to assist. Mark Terry, president of the Harman Pro Group, told participants in the conference call that "Harman is raising money for relief, just as after the tsunami in Asia; and we are extending deadlines on accounts receivable from our dealers in the Gulf area that were directly affected." Terry encouraged other manufacturers to assist in any way they can.
Meridian, MS-based Peavey Electronics had its manufacturing disrupted for three days because of power loss. According to Peavey's press representative Jim Beaugez, any damage to the facilities was minimal and all operations are running once again. "Everyone was happy to get back to work so soon," he said. "It was great to get your mind off things, and people need to get a paycheck. Commerce is what's going to get this place rolling again." In an effort to assist those who were not as fortunate as themselves, 10 percent of the proceeds from sales of Peavey PV Series cables will be donated to the Red Cross.
ReView Video will make one large donation at the end of September to the American Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund. A contribution can be made to this particular fund by calling 877.580.8200 or a sales representative and by ordering part number "HRF" with an indication as to the amount of the gift. In addition, ReView Video is working with its local chapter of the American Red Cross on how audio and video conferencing equipment can be utilized to help alleviate the suffering.
The three primary industry associations will serve as points of contact for industry members in need. As the associations remind, however, the best form of relief is money, and donations are accepted through several organizations, including the Red Cross.
Industry-Wide Relief Portal Launched
NSCA, CEDIA and the ICIA have announced the launch of the Electronic Systems Industry Relief Program and dedicated website (http://portal.nsca. org/relief/), in an effort to aid member companies and employees in the Gulf Coast region affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The site provides online resources for victim members including available housing and office space, equipment donations and services, as well as updates from member companies on their operational status. The site also includes employment resources in an effort to rebuild and recover from loss or damage. Registered site users may communicate via the site's forum, and receive updated federal and industry-related news.
"The collaborative effort of the industry's leading associations is one step in the recovery process of all our members in the Gulf Coast Region. We have already witnessed immediate action from our manufacturers, integrators, consultants and others. Their efforts have lessened financial burdens, provided temporary housing and employment, and helped businesses keep their doors open by offering temporary office space," said Chuck Wilson, executive director, NSCA, "The Industry Relief website is an excellent tool for connecting companies and individuals with those in need of support."
Wilson urges all who are able to assist to get involved in the relief effort by visiting the website and post their offer to help. "The rebuilding process for our members will take a great deal of time," says Wilson. "Help will still be needed long after Katrina coverage has stopped. We must take action and come together as an industry to continue assistance for our members in need."
ICIA's volunteer leadership and staff are mobilizing efforts to assist in ways that can enable the AV industry to come together to provide support during this time of need.
ICIA is working to gather information on members in the Gulf who have been affected, and is soliciting information to help them provide assistance. Readers with information should e-mail email@example.com.
As an immediate step, ICIA is supporting the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina by matching charitable contributions made by members and employees. ICIA will make a contribution to the Red Cross equal to 10 percent of all contributions made by members and employees (maximum contribution of $10,000).