In early February, the United States government declared a public health emergency due to the corona virus outbreak and by the end of that month the CDC said COVID-19 was headed toward pandemic status. By mid-March the novel coronavirus was declared a national emergency with hospitals and other health care facilities beginning to scramble to secure enough personal protection equipment (PPE). The pandemic has been making news ever since.
During a time of need, the NAPA family has always given generously of their time and resources and 2020 has been no exception. Here are just a few examples of what NAPA AUTO PARTS stores and AutoCare Centers around the country have been doing during a year like no other.
Helping to Meet the Demand for Masks
Mark Doll with a NAPA store in Great Falls, Montana, is one of the owners who stepped up. He said the topic of possible shortages of PPE supplies came up during a morning staff meeting in March. “I found masks available at the Billings DC. We contacted the hospital system to let them know we were willing to donate 750 masks if there was a need. They let us know they were anxious to receive them.”
Not long after, in a Facebook post, Benefis Health System wrote, “Thank you to our wonderful local businesses, including NAPA Great Falls, for donating critical N-95 masks that help protect our healthcare team while they care for the community.”
Rick Towne, owner of a 12-store NAPA group in South Carolina, felt lucky to find a source for three-layer face masks. Towne said, “In the midst of this health care crisis it didn’t seem right to sell masks to our local hospitals so my team and I offered our AutoCare Centers and repair shop customers the opportunity to join us in making a donation.”
As a result, Towne and his NAPA family of stores and customers delivered 2,000 masks to local hospitals. Towne said, “The help and support of our customers made our donation possible. We will continue to order masks as they are available and we look forward to supporting our local heroes fighting on the front lines.”
NAPA Stores Donate Thousands of Gloves
Kevin Record is another community-minded NAPA owner with three stores in Gillette, Wyoming. Record, along with his NAPA AutoCare Center customers including Octane Garage, Tire Rama, Bud’s Auto Repair, Franks’ Alignment and Complete Body Repair, and Platinum Full Service Garage teamed up to donate 15,000 sterile gloves to Campbell County Memorial Hospital. The gloves were used by first responders, caregivers, and hospital support personnel.
Randy Sell, a NAPA owner with three stores in Lincoln, Nebraska, also donated gloves to the local hospital. “I knew from media reports that many hospitals across the country were low on supplies,” he said. “We donated 4,200 pairs of Challenger gloves that were distributed to Bryan Health facilities.”
Early in the year, Rusty Bryant, wholesale manager at the five-store Sherwood Group of NAPA AUTO PARTS stores in Kentucky, said he was told by friends at the local re department where he still works part-time and serves as a volunteer, that all first responders would soon be strapped for gloves.
“When I received that news I ordered an entire skid before there were no gloves to be had,” he said. “The timing was right.”
He donated the gloves to the sheriff, police and re departments, EMS/ambulance services, and all the hospitals in the five cities and counties where his NAPA stores are located. “We donated thousands of gloves. In all, 384 first responders received gloves in addition to countless hospital workers,” he said. Bryant also made sure he had an ample supply of gloves and masks for all the employees in his stores.
Josh Witt is another NAPA owner who started stocking up on gloves and other PPE before COVID-19 took serious hold in the country. “We were talking with municipalities early on and the belief was access to PPE could become an issue,” said Witt with three NAPA stores in Indiana. “Even though we had a good amount of gloves on hand in early March we still had the ability to get more. So, with a good distribution channel available we brought in about 10,000 pairs.”
Even after the initial donation, Witt said his store group continued to support healthcare workers. In April, they donated 3,000 pairs of gloves to the Kosciusko County Health Department to distribute to the healthcare industry where needed. The County Health Department provides supplies to long-term health facilities, most of which are nursing homes.
NAPA Store Offers Discount to Frontline Workers
Craig Kaplowitz, owns two stores in Arkansas, one in Eureka Springs and a new Green eld store in Springdale that opened just six months before COVID-19 hit. Kaplowitz decided to help those who were struggling financially by offering a discount of up to 50% on store purchases. He linked the pricing to NAPA Online as well.
“The team reached out to hospitals in the area, fire and police departments, large employers, school districts, and other organizations, letting all of them know about our offer. The message was, with everything going on, the last thing you need to worry about is safe and reliable transportation. No matter the situation, your local NAPA store is here to help keep you moving. And we had a no questions asked policy.
“No one had to prove they were struggling or needed help to receive the reduced pricing. We had a no questions asked policy. We trained our team to make it clear that it wasn’t up to us to determine need. Customers simply had to ask for the discount. We just wanted to do our part to help.
“There were quite a few people who told us they were more than willing to pay full price because they were fortunate to be in a good situation and appreciated what we were doing to help those who need it.”
In addition to help frontline workers and community members in need, the promotion helped attract retail customers to both of Kaplowitz’s stores.
AutoCare Center Shares Gloves, Masks, and Disinfectant
With a little advance planning and creativity, John Eppstein, owner of John’s Automotive Care, a NAPA Gold Certified AutoCare Center in San Diego and La Mesa, California, provided gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant to customers and business partners, all for free.
“We ordered gloves early on. We also networked, and sometimes sent someone to the store every day to pick up whatever could be found. Once we had enough gloves and masks for our shops we offered to share the rest,” Eppstein explained.
Thanks to a Cintas-donated disinfectant station he installed at his La Mesa shop, Eppstein and his team mixed up industrial grade disinfectant and invited customers and vendors to fill empty bottles at both sites.
“When one of our employees told us of his sister in Texas who couldn’t find any toilet paper, we shipped a couple of rolls off to her,” Eppstein said. “In times like these, it’s a huge thing.”
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.