In Birmingham, Nikolich and Anderson, working with other local architects, propose a design charrette to develop prototypical housing plans with affected communities. “If we’re going to rebuild in the wake of a disaster, how do we use this as an opportunity to build something that’s better?” Nikolich asks. “This is a way we can use our expertise to help improve the built environment and hopefully bring some expert advice to the process of rebuilding rather than having it being driven solely by a function of time and cost.”
ProVia, a manufacturer of windows and doors in Sugarcreek, Ohio, donated materials and time to the devastation. In July, 15 employees traveled to Joplin to volunteer for one week. “It was quite a sight to see all the damage there. They said the tornado was a mile wide and ripped through town for five miles,” says Joe Klink, director of corporate relations. “Whole neighborhoods were completely blown away.”
ProVia employees devoted much of their time to cleaning up rubble from houses. “We had a Bobcat and we started hauling, raking and pulling concrete and everything out to the curb by the deadline,” Klink recalls. “When we left, it didn’t look any different than when we came. The devastation is that widespread. The difference we made was for the individuals whose property we cleared.”
Siding manufacturer and distributor Kaycan, Burlington, Vt., also donated exterior building products and tools in the Joplin area. Janis Turner, Kaycan’s U.S. marketing manager, explains that even though Kaycan does not manufacture tools, the tools are necessary for rebuilding. “Our customers need to take care of their families but also want to give back to the community,” she says. “Tools help them get their jobs back and their families fed.” The company also donated clothing, food and other critical items.
In addition, manufacturers are taking part by ensuring the built environment is more durable and energy efficient. Kim Hibbs, owner of Chesterfield, Mo.-based Hibbs Homes, has been working with the Donald family since May to rebuild their St. Louis house. Although construction is still in the early stages, the finished structure will be a more efficient and higher-quality residence than before, thanks to several suppliers, including Pevely, Mo.-based American Steel Fabrication, which is donating the steel for the house.
“There are a lot of great people in the St. Louis area who are stepping up to help us get this house rebuilt,” Hibbs says. “I’m thrilled that we’re replacing the almost 60-year-old house with one that’s so much more efficient. That’s what it’s all about — giving them a much better home.”
Although the devastation spans many states and thousands of people, one value resounds among everyone affected: community. Kaycan’s motto is “Building Lasting Impressions.” “For the first time in several years, we’ve had the opportunity to not only build a lasting impression in vinyl siding and in communities, but we were able to have Kaycan build a lasting impression for our customers in a philanthropic role,” Turner says. “That’s really important in companies today. You need to support someone who has hit hard times.”
Klink and his colleagues were impressed at the positive attitudes in Joplin. “What really struck me is even two months after the devastation when it seems like they would start to fall into despair, I don’t remember seeing any negative attitudes,” he recalls. “They seemed glad to be alive. The community seems to be pulling together.”
Stephen A. Tybor III, vice president and business unit manager at Heartland Siding by ProVia, is cofounder and president of Eight Days of Hope and Adopt A Family, charitable organizations that ProVia has worked with to provide financial and material assistance. “It’s great when you see companies giving back to communities,” Tybor says. It’s not always about the bottom line. We live in these communities and if we don’t live there, we have cousins that live in those communities. At the end of the day, it’s about doing the right thing.”