Sunday, May 1, 2016


   I've seen it before. That crazed look in a man's eyes when he doesn't get his way. Feeling grossly misunderstood. Realizing he's loosing this battle. "Well not this time," he must have thought last Thursday afternoon. "I'm not losing this one." As human nature would dictate, most of us have disagreements with our bosses and coworkers from time to time. Our supervisors are pressured from their own bosses to produce a certain kind of performance from us that can cause tension when communicated down the chain. Or maybe what we hear from them is more harsh than what was intended. So often our pride steps in, causing a reaction of fury. Many times though, it is the simplest misunderstanding that causes the largest frustration. And last week, within a few brief moments, that "crazy" in one fork-lift operator's eyes migrated down into his hands where he made a choice that would effect his future and the lives of almost 750 families throughout Illinois and Indiana. To release the fury within himself, he set fire to a packing slip inside The RoomPlace's 700,000+ square foot warehouse in Lombard, Illinois.

in reports, firefighters from 35 fire departments arrived to fight the blaze but had to retreat for their safety

  The 65 employees that were still at work made it out alive. In reports, firefighters from 35 fire departments arrived to fight the blaze but soon had to pull out for their own safety. 70+ million dollars of inventory, equipment, delivery trucks, and offices were destroyed.

70+ million dollars of inventory, equipment, delivery trucks, and offices were destroyed.

   While at dinner with friends, my phone began blowing up with the news. For the hours that followed, I found myself wondering how I was going to pay my mortgage and feed my children because it appeared that my livelihood just went up in smoke. My mind eventually went to my customers who were looking forward to receiving their furniture on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, next week, next month,... Selling furniture is fun for me. Helping a customers arrange their new space puts a smile on my face. Whether they are closing on their first home or redesigning an hold room, there is joy in being able to tell them, "Next week, you'll be sleeping comfortably on your new mattress!" or "Next month your place will be looking FRESH!" :)  But now my customers who are anticipating their mattresses and furniture on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, next week, next month… instead, they'll be receiving a call that their orders are being put on an indefinite hold. In this instant society, "indefinite hold" is not acceptable. And that's not what I had set my customers up for.

   As Friday came, I silently wondered why I was getting ready for work. Why go in? What can I sell? Inventory is gone and we have nothing to offer our customers. Then I had to remind myself of a conversation I'd just had with my teenage daughter. "God is the same God today as He was before the fire." It was time to rearrange my perspective. To date, I've many ups, downs, heartbreaks, and financial disappointments. But I don't believe that God has ever looked on my life and said "oops" or "uh-oh". As soon as I allow outside circumstances to dictate my faith, I begin to crumble. No, Donna. Don't do this! KNOW what's inside and LIVE BY IT. Stay the course. Be consistent. Don't crumble.

   So I went to work. The atmosphere throughout the weekend was strange… lots of questions and, admitedly, a little bit of trepidation. We received frequent and transparent emails from [CEO] Paul Adams,  [VP of Sales] Tim Adams, and  [Owner] Bruce Berman encouraging us to stay on course and not lose hope. "We will take care of you," they promised us.

   Questions about pay loomed over our heads. A meeting with the insurance company was scheduled for Sunday. It would probably be another day, at least, before we would know any specifics about our individual paychecks. My personal thoughts were that most sales associates would probably be laid off for a certain amount of time until things were built back up enough to operate normally again. I could see insurance covering payroll for the hourly and salary employees, but for us, the straight-commision sales assocaites??? I couldn't imagine it.

   On Monday evening, we were given the news that The RoomPlace ruled to pay their straight-commission employees the average of what we had been bringing home for the past 52 weeks.This paycheck structure would continue until orders and deliveries are flowing smoothly again. Basically, we will be living on the same pay as we'd been accustomed to for the past year! This didn't come from the insurance company but from Mr. Berman himself. And he was not going to wait for the insurance company to provide the funds. (Thank you, Mr. Berman. You cannot know how appreciative we are and how much compassion we've been feeling by you.) That man didn't miss a beat. The promised money showed up THIS WEEK ALREADY on our checks!
one of several emails reminding us to keep going strong
   Now here I sit on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Only 10 days after the fire. We already have MULTIPLE new warehouses signed for and in the process of being restocked. Manufacturers began expediting replacement inventory to our company within only a couple days of the fire. Last weekend, we had competitors requesting that the manufacturers give The RoomPlace priority to rebuild. How awesome are human beings during a time like this?!
one of our new warehouses #wegotthis
   New warehouses have already been secured. Inventory is coming in. Delivery trucks are already en-route. And business is quickly building back up. AND IT'S ONLY BEEN TEN DAYS. Crazy amazing. You were right, The RoomPlace. WE GOT THIS.

our store 21 team
Greenwood, Indiana

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