CEO John Garff, UTAH 1992, helped his personnel get back on their feet after the Hurricane Harvey; pictured below are items and damaged building materials ripped from their homes as they rebuilt from the storm. The inset photo is of Garff.
While the automotive dealership Garff Enterprises, with locations in six states, lost a combined $32 million and more than 800 cars from its lots in the aftermath of this past fall’s Hurricane Harvey, it paid $1 million to cover the salaries of 703 of its employees who could not work when its Texas dealerships were closed. The storm put the staffers out of work for six days.
“The first order of business was, ‘Is everybody safe?’ And fortunately, they were,” says CEO John Garff, UTAH 1992, adding that the second order of business was to let employees know the company would cover payroll.  “I wanted to let them focus on themselves and their neighbors rather than their paychecks.”
The company also paid the homeowners insurance deductibles for employees to have their homes fixed, hired contractors to assess the costs to repair damages and in some cases paid deposits for rent for those who were displaced after the storm. The company did so through a foundation named after Garff’s mother and father, Robert and Katherine Garff.
“We had roughly 125 employees who had been displaced. They lost their homes, their cars and had significant damage,” Garff says, explaining that the foundation raised $800,000 to help them.
Garff was amazed how his employees and their fellow Texans came together to help each other. He defers all of the honor to them. “It was amazing how people rallied and got back on their feet,” he says.