NAPA AUTO PARTS stores can always be counted on to support their communities during a crisis. Today, as hospitals and health care organizations across the country struggle with the coronavirus pandemic NAPA stores and AutoCare Centers are once again stepping up to lend a hand. Here are just a few stories about some local NAPA heroes and how they are helping.
‘Every day we talk about the crisis’
The COVID-19 coronavirus has reached all 50 states and even areas of the country with fewer people and more wide open spaces have been affected. The pandemic is on everyone’s mind.
Mark Doll who owns the NAPA stores in Great Falls, Montana, said, “In early April, we had more than 350 COVID-19 cases in Montana and it seems to creep up 10-15 more each day that goes by. Every day we talk about the crisis.”
When the topic came up in a recent morning staff meeting, several members of Doll’s team mentioned knowing someone who works at the local hospital who told them of possible shortages. “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, a friend sent Doll a Facebook post from Benefis Health System that read: “Thank you to our wonderful local businesses, including NAPA Great Falls, for donating critical N-95 masks that help protect our health care team while they care for the community.”
Doll said, “I wasn’t looking for publicity. Benefis Health System is one of our customers. They have a lot of vehicles and we’ve been doing business with them for a long time, so it only made sense for us to donate the masks to them.”
NAPA Billings General Manager Rocky Mann said this about Mark Doll: “Generosity is his middle name. He’s always willing to help.”
Rick Towne, owner of the 12-store group NAPA Auto Supply and Equipment in South Carolina, also wanted to help. With N95 masks in short supply, he learned NAPA had found an available source for three-layer face masks. So he immediately reached out to nurses at local hospitals asking if they could use this type of mask and the overwhelming response was yes.
“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,” Towne said.
As a result, Towne and his NAPA family of stores and customers recently delivered 3,000 masks to local hospitals. “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,” Towne said.
Thousands of gloves donated
Kevin Record is another community-minded NAPA owner whose three stores in Gillette, Wyoming, are served by NAPA Billings. Record Supply, along with their 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 will be used by first responders, caregivers, and hospital support personnel.
The group found out about the need when Travis Olsmtead with Record Supply was told by a friend who is a coal worker that the hospital was short on gloves. In an article in the Gillette News Record, Olmstead said, “I knew we had plenty of gloves to help out.”
Doug Leitzke, owner of Octane Garage, a NAPA AutoCare Center, said when the AutoCare owners found out the hospital was running critically low on supplies they got every glove they could find. “We’re just trying to show the community that businesses are certainly pushing forward to help,” he said.
“It’s to fill a need and help out wherever we can to keep everybody safe,” Record added. “We had a stock of gloves here that we pulled from and we brought more in from the DC. Because of COVID-19, NAPA employees on the counter and in freight wear gloves, too. Gloves are definitely hard to come by right now.” Record also donated four Tyvek suits he had in stock.
John Arnold, Campbell County Health Director of material management, said the generous donations they’re receiving from residents and businesses has made a critical difference.
Randy Sell, a NAPA owner with three stores in Lincoln, Nebraska, also donated gloves to the hospital in Lincoln. “I knew from media reports that many hospitals across the country are low on supplies,” said Sell. “My daughter works at one of the Bryan Health clinics in town and she told me of the need for gloves and masks.
Sell sent a sample of the Challenger gloves he had in stock and they were approved by the hospital’s site manager. “We pretty much cleaned out the supply we had. In all, we donated 4,200 pairs of Challenger gloves that were distributed to Bryan Health facilities. We have more on order from the Omaha DC and we’ll be here if they need them.”
Health and safety a top priority
In addition to helping their communities, NAPA owners have made the health and safety of employees and customers are top priority.
Doll said he has reduced store hours, closed the retail store to walk-in customers, but is offering free curbside pick-up of store orders called in to limit the exposure to the community and employees. Record, Sell, and other NAPA AUTO PARTS stores owners around the country are taking similar precautions and working to keep everyone safe during these uncertain times.