A week and a half before Hurricane Irma slammed Florida, delivering a deadly blow to the Southeast, Ace Hardware was stocking its stores across the states with ample supplies of propane, gloves and boots, and power cords — items shoppers would surely be looking for after the storm had passed.
Preparation is key for home improvement retailers in the midst of such natural disasters.
Home Depot and Lowe's began shipping emergency supplies to Florida in anticipation of Irma in the days leading up to the storm, while they continued cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey, which came ashore in Texas just days before.
It's a costly process, but analysts have said that investments in logistics and the supply chain by home improvement retailers during a weather-related disaster typically bring in around 10 to 15 times more in sales.
Illinois-based Ace Hardware, which operates 70 stores in Texas and about 200 in Florida, was not so much scrambling on news of when the damage would be done, but reacted by pushing extra shipments to its stores in the hurricanes' paths.
"We have an inventory planning group that was pushing inventory to distribution centers; a merchandise group of people keeping vendors in tune to what is happening," Tom Molleur, Ace's vice president of retail support, told CNBC. "We have two different traffic teams — monitoring our trucks, looking at road closures."
Spread sheets were being compiled listing all of Ace's stores, along with any damage done to the locations. And constant updates were being relayed both to employees and shoppers through social media.
If it sounds like military operations, it was. Ace calls it the "command center."