When Weyerhaeuser Company announced it would donate building materials to help rebuild Haiti after January’s devastating earthquake, the company didn’t realize that the generosity of trucking companies would help stretch the donation even further. But when six local trucking companies stepped forward to help, Weyerhaeuser was able to ship two extra loads of wood to Haiti for use in building 500 temporary housing structures.
It started with Weyerhaeuser employees who worked with Habitat for Humanity to provide technical feedback on the design of transitional housing structures in Haiti. Employees then translated the material list into orders for Southern Pine lumber from its mills in Silver Creek, Bruce and Philadelphia, Mississippi. But the challenge was finding a way to minimize the shipping costs so they could maximize the $100,000 product donation.
“At first, it looked like we would only be able to donate six loads, given the $1,500 per load carrier charges,” says Gary Everett, sales center leader in Hot Springs. “But we were able to increase our donation to eight loads, for a total of 20,000 pieces, which were transported from our sawmills in Mississippi to the port in Jacksonville, Florida.”
The first carrier that Weyerhaeuser approached to ship loads was Fikes Truck Line, a long-time Weyerhaeuser carrier based in Hope, Arkansas. Once Fikes employees realized where the lumber was going and how it would be used, it was their idea to donate the freight. That offer set in motion the plan to ask other carriers to donate the freight costs of additional loads.
“We are quite humbled that Weyerhaeuser approached Fikes to assist in hauling their lumber donation to Haiti,” said Rick McCain, vice president of sales at Fikes Truck Line. “So often when disasters occur, you want to help out and do the right thing but don’t know where to start. When we heard about the Weyerhaeuser opportunity, we were immediately onboard to haul loads in support of the international relief effort.”
In late April, the first load was shipped when Fikes owner operators Harold Horn and Jimmy King hauled two Weyerhaeuser loads from Bruce to the Jacksonville port. Other carriers that donated loads include TMC, Swift, Cypress, Jordan and Prime.
“Because of the generosity of these transportation carriers, we were able to provide additional wood to build more temporary living structures in Haiti,” says Everett. ”It’s been a great way to work together to show support for the Haitian people.”
Weyerhaeuser Company has about 1,033 associates in Mississippi and manages over 790,000 acres of timberlands in the state, all certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) ™. Weyerhaeuser operations in Mississippi include the iLevel Lumber Technologies operations at Bruce, McComb and Philadelphia; Cellulose Fibers operation at Columbus; Modified Fibers operation at Columbus; iLevel Building Materials Distribution Center at Long Beach; and Timberlands offices at Bellefontaine, Bruce, Columbia, Columbus, Hillsdale, McComb, Philadelphia, Scooba and Silver Creek.