Picture this: It’s rush hour in New York City in the middle of the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Graham’s National Sales Manager, Teddy Mathis, has pulled over on the side of the road to re-strap a tank that had come loose due to the rough highway.
“There I was,” he said, “sitting on the side of the interstate, re-strapping the tank. People are staring. I’m right there in the middle of the most infected area.”
Teddy was on his way to Cape Cod to deliver two 400-Gallon units to two Graham customers. This is just one example of the lengths that the Graham team went to in order to ensure that our customers received the supplies they needed during the coronavirus pandemic. We chatted with Teddy and Josh Bare, Graham’s Vice President, about traveling during these unprecedented times.
Teddy left for Cape Cod in the middle of March, right when the news about the coronavirus was breaking. Most carrier companies were not traveling to the Northeast due to the pandemic, so Teddy decided that he’d take matters into his own hands: “I’d promised these customers that they would have their equipment. Since there were no companies going up there, I decided to go.”
The drive took 19 hours one way. Teddy describes the drive as “one of the eeriest things ever.” He said that “there was hardly anyone on the roads. I wasn’t sure what to expect state to state, so I had packed blankets and pillows and plenty of food in case I needed to sleep in the truck.” Luckily, he found overnight lodging but noted the hotels were also mostly empty and solemn.
After Teddy’s arrival, the two customers on Cape Cod were encouraged by his commitment. “We were all really glad to see each other,” Teddy said, “but we all kept our distance as we unloaded. I was so glad to have been able to get them what they needed.” And the customer, Ryan Birch of Fairway Lawn and Tree Service, felt the same. “We continue to be impressed with Graham’s quality service and products. It was a pleasure to meet Teddy after he personally drove our spray rig to our shop.”
Josh and his father Dick, CEO of Graham, also traveled during the pandemic—to Oklahoma City, where they delivered a GSE LawnScaper. The pair left on a Wednesday evening and arrived on Friday. Josh described the trip as “surreal.”
One gas station, he noted, had plastic tarp hanging from the ceiling and nothing for sale, since virtually all production and deliveries had been halted. He also describes the roads as unsettlingly empty.
Josh said one of the more memorable moments of the trip was a meal shared with his dad. The two dined on steaks from Longhorn Steakhouse on the side of the highway—inside the rig and using their hands since the restaurants offered only curbside pickup.
Tim McMiller of Green Turf, Inc., was glad to welcome them and his new rig. After a tour of his business, Josh and Dick flew back home to Georgia.
Most of Graham’s customers were considered essential businesses during the pandemic, which meant that they needed gear to keep their operations running smoothly. And at Graham, we take our customer service seriously—it’s what we pride ourselves on. We want our customers to trust that we’ll do whatever it takes—even during the middle of a global pandemic—in order to make sure they’re taken care of.