Best Practices, Operations, V8I1

True Brotherhood

Dec. 10 really wasn’t that much different than any other day. I had multiple stops lined up and dinner with some great friends. 

Going up through Barna into Tennessee, I started noticing something. It was hot. But, not just hot, but “fluttery.” What’s fluttery? Glad you asked. Fluttery is what the wind does before a tornado. It doesn’t blow “side to side”; it flutters upward.

I’m a bit of a tornado magnet. Ever since I was a kid, in northwest Missouri, tornadoes fascinated me. I was drawn to them. Sadly, they were drawn to me. I remember many a time my sister shrieking and all of us running down into the dreaded storm shelter. Over the years, I kept running into them. 

So, when it got fluttery, I noticed. My wife even texted me. Where are you? Tennessee, I typed. BE CAREFUL, was the reply. Uh oh. I knew. All afternoon, it sweltered. And fluttered. 

Getting close to my dinner appointment, I came into Martin, Tennessee. As I turned onto the four-lane, I saw it. The sky had been steadily decreasing its condition the last couple of hours. Now it was a rolling mass. And right there, right in the middle, was a clear blue hole, and if you held your hand in front of you, it would cover the hole. 

We had decided to eat early. Just worked out better for everyone. When we were done, we stood outside for a bit. Small talk. Trucks, lights, strobes. Whatever. And there it was. The fluttering. I told them to be careful. This will get nasty. They agreed and left. 

I headed up toward Mayfield. Wondering if anyone was in town, I popped off the four-lane and drove around a bit. Town was dead. Random lightning everywhere. I headed toward Paducah. 

Pulling into my motel, I walked inside to check-in. The little gal behind the desk was freaking out. We have a tornado coming! There are tornadoes everywhere tonight. Getting in my room, I did something I never do. I turned the TV on. Every local channel was the same. Tornadoes. 

I texted my buddy Shannon Latham (Shed Geek Podcast) who lived less than five miles away. We both watched it unfold the rest of the night. In the end, I know of a half dozen that I kept track of. And one huge one. Devastating. We both watched as it ran right through Mayfield. And on it marched. The debris ball was the only sign of the pure mayhem it was wreaking. 

So about right now, you may be asking why I’m telling y’all this in Shed Builder Magazine. I’ve got a couple of really good reasons. 

First, I can’t think of a single town that has more connections to the shed industry. Second, I have a lot of friends who are in the shed industry that live and do business in that area. So, a lot of shed industry people were affected that night. And still are. 

Here’s what I’m getting at. A couple of years ago, a bunch of us went together and started a nonprofit to help people. Help our friends. Our competitors. Our allies. It didn’t matter. You needed help, we were gonna help. 

As always, some people fuss. You’re just enabling bad decisions. Creating bad habits. Building a union to work against the rest. It’s downright laughable some of the stuff we hear. Even the board members get asked, “Aren’t you guys creating division instead of helping?” So, I decided it’s time y’all know who we are, what we do, and what we believe. And this story gives a perfect example. 

A couple of years ago, we started helping people. With great joy, we would raise crazy amounts of money and help haulers get back hauling. We listened to their stories, asked questions, helped them, and watched them zoom off to success. It was great. And stressful. At least for the poor guys trying to keep up with it all. 

So, we started a Brotherhood. A bunch of guys all in it for each other. And not just haulers. We have sales guys, manufactures, RTO guys, builders, truckers, company guys, and owner-operators. All pulling together for the same cause. Let’s help people. We’re two years in and going 300 members strong. Our first focus is always on someone else. 

So what about the tornado? Sunday morning, Shannon called me. “Let’s raise money for generators!” And I was all in. I knew our guys. We would focus outside of ourselves on this one. We decided to do a Facebook Live. I figured maybe 20 generators. Shannon got the other Geek, Kyle Summers, in on it, and it was done. The response was huge. Even Chip Gaines got in on it. Who? I dunno, ask Kyle. 

The rest is, as we say, history because the shed industry is the greatest industry in the world. Even among all the bickering and shenanigans. Oh, yes, there is plenty of that. But, when it comes right down to it, they get their gloves on and go to work. All of them. 

We ended up with 73 generators. Monday and Tuesday, the Geeks and I handed out 45 of them. What a blast. Then that rolled over to a lot of guys wanting to come do recovery cleanup work, and now we have crews every week in Kentucky doing cleanup. People volunteering their time, money, and equipment because with just a little organization, so much can be done!

And now you know why we have a Brotherhood. The best thing the shed industry has going. And you can become involved and help however you wish. Over and over, we hear storm victims remark, “This is the heartbeat of America, not what you see on TV.” And they hug us and cry and tell God to bless us. Well, He already has. What are we doing with it? 

If you want to help, feel free to reach out to me at shedhaulersbrotherhood@gmail.com or, go to Shbrotherhood.org/donate.

We have had a crazy couple of years. And yet this industry just keeps on rocking. I love it. Make 2022 the best one yet. We can all help.

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