TORRANCE, CA – Two fleet management companies in the northeast, as well as automakers with offices in that area, temporarily closed their offices in the wake of hurricane Sandy, which reached the northeastern U.S. on Oct. 29. Despite these closures, both FMCs affected stated that their operations continue as normal.
ARI closed its office in Mt. Laurel, N.J., on Oct. 29 and 30 and the company's President Carl Ortell issued the following statement regarding ARI's operations.
“ARI was watching this storm closely and preparing for several days ahead of time to ensure there would be no disruption in service to our clients,” Ortell said. “We activated our Hurricane Hotline on Friday evening before the storm hit and took steps according to our business continuity plan to ensure that our call centers and offices in other regions of the U.S. and Canada would be in place to handle operations as the storm came on shore. We made the decision very early on to close all of our offices in New Jersey to ensure the safety of our employees, and decided the safest thing to do was to keep the offices closed through Tuesday, but all of our critical team members have been in communication with each other throughout the entire event, and we have continued operations for those clients not affected by the storm and sought to provide help to those who were in the storm’s path.”
The company also noted that its toll-free hurricane line is available for drivers and clients at 1-866-353-3859.
PHH Arval closed its office in Sparks, Md., on Monday, Oct. 29, but despite a delayed opening to give its employees the opportunity to navigate any debris on the roads, the company’s Sparks office was open today (Oct. 30).
“PHH is prepared for these types of events and has been for a long time,” stated PHH Arval’s Dico Akseraylian when contacted by Automotive Fleet magazine. “We have a comprehensive business continuity plan in place that allows us to remain fully operational throughout the storm, while keeping our employees safe. We have remote capabilities and can leverage our contact centers in our Canada and Florida offices to support call volumes and serve as a back-up if widespread power outages occur in the Maryland area.”
The company added it has contacted key suppliers to understand their continuity plans and ensure they are able to support the company’s customers.
Merchants Leasing, located in Hooksett, N.H., told Automotive Fleet that the company opened on time despite the storm and surrounding power outages. “We ran business as usual today,” said the company’s Marketing Coordinator Jessica Heizer.
Among the automakers, General Motors issued a statement regarding whether its operations have been affected by the storm. The company said its GM Baltimore operations cancelled production for Tuesday but resumed production on Wednesday. GM stated that it’s not seeing significant delays in its supply base deliveries. The company said its dealers are working through the difficulties created by hurricane Sandy and to reopen as quickly as possible. GM added its primary concern is for the safety of its dealers and their employees in the affected areas, and that by the end of the day Tuesday, the company hadn't received reports of injuries to its dealerships' employees or families due to the storm. The automaker plans to give another update on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 10:00 a.m. EDT.
Mercedes-Benz USA’s office in Montvale, N.J. is currently closed. The automaker's Sabrina Glavan told Automotive Fleet that its office in Montvale would be open on Oct. 31. She added that the company is encouraging employees to stay home if they are unable to make it to the office when it reopens.
BMW USA’s office in Woodcliff, N.J. was also closed due to the storm. Kenn Sparks, manager business communications for BMW, said the business continues as normal despite the hurricane.
"The BMW of North America headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. has been closed this week because of the hurricane and its aftermath but business continues apace," Sparks said. "We are well prepared for situations like this and everyone is equipped to work remotely and that’s exactly what we have been doing. It’s certainly not business as usual but all processes are being handled and we will notify our business partners of any delays."
BMW's Sparks added that the company will announce any changes in operations as necessary.
For fleet managers, WEX Inc. (formerly Wright Express) offers a fuel station locator application that’s designed to help fleets find fuel stations in storm-affected areas. You can view it here.
Automotive Fleet will update this story as we receive more news.
By Greg Basich
Updated 10/30/2012 at 5:16 p.m. PST with information from Mercedes-Benz USA and BMW.
Updated 10/30/2012 at 7:33 p.m. PST with information from ARI.
Updated 10/31/2012 at 8:53 a.m. PST to correct Merchants Leasing's location.
Updated 10/31/2012 at 1:47 p.m. PST with more information from GM.