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ENERGY’s Starting Lineup Series is a forum for the SMEs at ENERGY to share their thoughts, experiences, and expertise on all things transportation and logistics. 

As a specialist in the logistics of retail disaster recovery, my day-to-day is a little different than most brokers. I’m refreshing the page on weather sites to check on the paths of hurricanes and watching for tornado warnings across North America.

That might sound a little grim, but it’s essential to the job. I need to be aware of disasters, natural and man-made that will require restoration logistics services.

It’s safe to say that you’re working with people who aren’t having the best day in the retail disaster recovery business.

But on our worst days, the best thing someone can offer you is qualified and competent help to get you swiftly back on your feet. My team and I at ENERGY specialize in getting your business up and running quickly because we have the experience to ask the right questions and the expertise to get the job done.

Retail disaster recovery: Arson at three big box stores

It’s late November, and like many of the jobs I get, it starts with a midnight phone call. But this call isn’t about just one job; it’s three.

I started taking notes, and the story is that three big box stores in the Toronto area were all set on fire in a single night.   

From my experience in the logistics of retail disaster recovery, I knew this would be a big project, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. November is peak season for shipping, making capacity tight, and demand for drop trailers goes through the roof. But this wasn’t my first rodeo, and I knew I had to establish the right lines of communication and make a game plan for execution.


Effective communication is critical in retail disaster recovery when you have reopening deadlines and hazardous materials. It’s a high-pressure environment with multiple stakeholders, not to mention a major retailer’s brand reputation on the line.

Communicating across multiple channels effectively and efficiently with so many boots on the ground is the difference between a project that meets reopening deadlines and one that doesn’t.

In this case, it was a tight reopening deadline. The rule with the big box store was that the three sites had to be ready to reopen in 12-15 days.

We needed to establish how much material needed moving, how quickly, and where it was going. We also needed to know what happens to the potentially fire-damaged merchandise. Can we sell it, or can we destroy it locally? If it needs to be hauled long distance, the carrier needs to know that and be ready for it.

But once you have all key personnel identified, your communication channels established, and the scope of work, you’re ready to make your game plan.

The game plan and execution

Since this job involved three separate stores, the number of drop trailers we needed was substantial. We required 50 at each location, for a total of 150.

I knew this was the biggest job I had ever done, and with the logistics of three separate sites, things could get complicated quickly.

The first thing I did was decide that I would work with a single carrier. I didn’t want to add confusion and complexity by adding multiple carrier partners to the job.

The second task was finding the 150 trailers I would need during peak season. We had to pull out all the stops to get those trailers.

We were getting trailers out of retirement and fixing others to make them roadworthy and ready for inspection — it was a huge undertaking and only two weeks to get it done.

Despite all the obstacles, I’m happy to report that we completed all three jobs on time and within budget. The company was so pleased with our work that when there was another fire at one of their locations in northern Manitoba, ENERGY was first on their list.

From disaster recovery and restoration to dry van, refrigerated, drop trailer, or cross-border freight, Jason and his team can help optimize your supply chain. Contact him today.

About the author

  • Jason Brown
  • Jason Brown

    Director of Business Development

    Jason Brown is ENERGY’s Director of Business Development and offers full-stack transportation services specializing in the logistics of retail disaster recovery & restoration.

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