Business Monday

Storms — and earthquake — tested some CEOs’ and employees’ resolve

This week’s question to South Florida CEOs who are on the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: Will the ongoing post-storm challenges in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean affect your company and how?


Good Hope has not been directly impacted by the post-storm challenges experienced by Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands. That said, many of the families whom we serve have opened their doors and extended financial assistance to relatives and friends in their time of need.

Margaret “Peggy” Bass, executive director, Good Hope Equestrian Training Center


At Carrfour, we began to see the post-storm affects immediately. Within weeks, our offices were inundated with requests for affordable housing from families that were able to leave the islands, but had no place to live once they arrived in Miami. Miami already had an affordable housing crisis. Our community’s affordable housing inventory is not sufficient to accommodate Miami’s current residents, let alone an influx of families impacted by the storms. As a community, we need to quickly come together and invest the resources necessary to truly impact Miami’s dire affordable housing shortage.

Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, president, CEO, Carrfour Supportive Housing


I don’t think there’s much of an impact on our ongoing business, but we do have several employees with family in Puerto Rico. It’s been very challenging as they help get their families back on their feet, and we do whatever we can to support them.

Michael A. Comras, president, The Comras Company of Florida


Yes. We have some of our highest performing stores in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, due to the severity of Hurricane Maria, we have lost one location while two more are permanently closed. We created an emergency fund destined to help our employees in “La Isla del Encanto” as much as possible.

Jose R. Costa, CEO, For Eyes


We are not feeling any changes at this time. But as the population grows in South Florida and other markets where we provide services, we will see an increase in business and overall revenue.

Alejandro Fernandez, CEO, Gastro Health


While we were fortunate in South Florida, that hasn’t always been the case. That is why it’s been tremendous, but not surprising, to see our employees offer their support to our friends in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. We’ve seen everything from grassroots efforts by our project teams to collect supplies, to assistance provided to specific families in Puerto Rico through Suffolk’s internal support group, The Giving Circle.

Jeff Gouveia, president, general manager, SE region, Suffolk


I do not expect any impact on us.

Jerome Hutchinson Jr., managing partner, JHJ Marketing Group


In line with the work that we do, we hope to provide support of Puerto Ricans and others in the Caribbean affected by the storm such as social services, health and wellness, financial and housing counseling, school enrollment, and business development assistance. However, as many people temporarily migrate to South Florida, Opa-locka continues to be an affordable community in the county. Therefore, it’s our hope that as people move to Miami-Dade County, they will look at making Opa-locka home.

Willie Logan, founder, CEO and president, Opa-locka Community Development Corp.


The lasting effect has been a renewed focus on preparedness for 4IT and our clients. That storm was a strong reminder that we live and work in a dangerous hurricane zone and how important it is to be prepared. We are reviewing our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, including a long disruption to cash flow, after seeing the post-storm challenges in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Having the right plan that is regularly tested, along with the right insurance that protects the contents of your office and the potential business interruption, is key to minimizing the impact.

Raymond Mobayed, owner, 4IT Inc.


The post-storm challenges do not directly affect our firm. Certain money managers and funds held investments in Puerto Rico that are challenged by the financial environment there. There could be interesting investment opportunities though, for investors willing to take the risk that those economies will eventually stabilize and the early investors may profit.

Julie Neitzel, partner, WE Family Offices


This past hurricane season has had a devastating impact on Puerto Rico and many other Caribbean islands. We feel for our colleagues and all residents of those islands. South Florida may see some additional demand in the coming season as the islands are trying to get back to normal. Significant migration into South Florida will also increase the labor pool as many hotel operations will not be able to reopen in time for this season.

Gene Prescott, president and CEO, Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables


Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the earthquakes in Mexico impacted many of us at Univision. Not only do we have operations in the impacted cities and island of Puerto Rico, but many of our colleagues have family and friends in those places. During Irma, we had to literally move more than 50 employees and their families to Mexico City to ensure continuity and deliver our programming to viewers nationwide. Then four days after coming back from Mexico City, the Sept. 19 earthquake hit. While we were devastated by the news, we joined “Unidos Por Los Nuestros,” Univision Communication Inc.’s corporate relief telethon and multi-platform campaign to help raise funds for the American Red Cross. But we wanted to go further, and a few days later we did what was unthinkable until that day: the sports media industry came together and we joined forces with Azteca, BeIN Sports, ESPN and Fox Sports for the first-ever simulcast uniting the five media companies in one relief effort. I can say that is the proudest moment in my career.

Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president, Univision Deportes


We’ve definitely seen a marked rise in buyers and renters from Puerto Rico, both in Miami and in Orlando. While this does bring us short-term benefits, we’re working hard to support the recovery efforts and have partnered with figures like Chef Jose Andres on several fundraisers benefiting the island. It is during these trying times when corporations have to step out of their comfort zones and truly make a difference.

Carlos Rosso, president, The Related Group’s Condominium division


As a distributor of our apparel brands in Puerto Rico, it has had a huge effect on sales. But we do understand the devastation and we were pleased to offer help and have donated more than $200,000 in clothing to all of those in need on the island. We are looking forward to the 2018 season and know the Caribbean and will come back strong.

Stan Rudman, CMO and owner, Sportailor Inc.


We haven’t seen any direct impacts on our company as a result of the post-storm challenges. As Puerto Rico and parts of the Caribbean recover, many who have been displaced are coming to Miami to be with friends and family, and rebuild their lives. We welcome them with open arms, both as guests of our arena and as potential candidates for new hire. The Miami Heat Charitable Fund, Carnival and the Arison family have also been very generous in supporting relief efforts, pledging up to $10 million in hurricane relief.

Kim Stone, general manager and EVP, AmericanAirlines Arena


We have not seen a major impact on the bank due to the post-storm challenges in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. However, we do have customers and employees whose families have been impacted. Also, we recently hired someone who moved to Miami from Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Irma. We were happy to hire her!

Teri Williams, president, CEO and a director, OneUnited Bank


Not affecting our company.

Bernard Zyscovich, founder and CEO of Zyscovich Architects



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