On April 17th, just two days after our nation was stunned by the deadly bomb attack by terrorists during the Boston Marathon, another explosion rocked a small town named West, Texas with a devastating blast that leveled a huge fertilizer plant, hundreds of residences, killing 15 and wounding over 200. If you saw on television news the bravery of first responders helping victims in Boston, there was an equal outpouring of first responders in West. Sadly, eleven of the fourteen killed were first responders, firemen who struggled with a massive fire at the plant just before the explosion leveled everything for blocks.
As it is everywhere in our great country the people of Texas descended on West in order to help stabilize the residents with food and clothing and whatever help they needed to begin the road to recovery.
We at Krispy Kreme in Texas were like everyone else, we wanted to do something to ease the pain. We have always sent doughnuts into disaster areas. It’s what we have to offer and we gladly give it. Our doughnuts are not food during times like this, our doughnuts offer a brief break in the suffering by offering a small moment of happiness in an otherwise horrific situation. We have seen smiles of thanks through tears of sadness and on faces dirty and strained from endless hours of hard work.
One of my business partners in our Krispy Kreme franchise in Texas, Krispy Randy, soon rushed into our store #1057 in Austin with just one thing in mind…get Krispy Kremes to West, Texas. At the same moment our quick thinking General Manager, Wagon Wills, was gearing up to get some doughnuts to West. The General Manager’s name is Wagon Wills and on this morning he was on a roll. What happened next was nicely laid out in an email Wagon later sent me describing what happened that day. I will repeat his email here as it’s a solid first person account and also illustrates the effect it had on him as a Krispy Kremer.
Here’s Wagon’s e-mail:
Dear Krispy Mike,
Last Wednesday, April 17th, when I saw the news about the explosion in West, Texas I knew we needed to get involved by the next day. Randy was in the store early that next morning and asked if we had the ability to get product up there to the Red Cross. I assured him we would be there but almost fell backwards when he told me we should deliver 150 dozen! He obviously knew better than I did what I was headed into.
We loaded up 150 dozen and were gone within the hour. I had no idea where I was headed in the town of West but I figured once I was there I’d find out. I stopped at the place where everyone stops when passing through West: Czech Stop, a convenience store specializing in kolaches. As luck was on my side I ran into a gentleman in the parking lot of the store who was coordinating all food response in West for the Red Cross. He is a big Krispy Kreme fan and was truly happy we were there. I waited with him and shuffled some additional donations around to their vans and he then had us follow him to the Red Cross Incident Command Center set up in a church in the center of town.
When we arrived at the command center there were several hundred people in various gatherings; ATF, FBI, EPA and numerous other first responder groups. I immediately understood why I had 150 dozen doughnuts in my van! The media presence was spread throughout the town and into a large auction house parking lot. I don’t recall ever seeing anything quite like it, the mix of local and national news services scattered in every open space and virtually none of them prepared for the Blue Texas Norther that brought the temperatures plummeting 35 degrees from the previous evening and accompanying 30mph breeze. The cold just added to the overwhelming gloom.
As I parked the van, Red Cross help immediately appears and our van gets unloaded faster than I can hand bags of dozens to people. Smiles were on everyone’s faces around the van and I could sense the deep appreciation for bringing our doughnuts to West. Many of the Red Cross volunteers were from the Cen Tex chapter and from the Austin area and knew the doughnuts had made quite a long trip that morning.
I was introduced to the leadership at the command center. I told them we would all pray for them. You could clearly see that they were facing an incredible death toll. No one had been rescued since the sun came up and there were many nearby homes and areas within demolished apartment buildings that they had not been able to gain access to. The perimeter that had been established around the disaster area was so large it was difficult to imagine an explosion of that magnitude. It looked like several blocks long and wide. West is a small town of about 2,800 people and I knew that it would never be the same. But the people are strong here and it will heal, but it will never be the same.
All in all this was my most rewarding day as GM at Krispy Kreme. Us folks at Krispy Kreme all know it’s not “just about the doughnut” and that morning in West, Texas I got to experience firsthand what our company, our franchise, and our stores are all about. I now believe more than ever before that Krispy Kreme is really and truly a whole lot more than doughnuts. A whole lot more!
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts/Store #1057