H-E-B began working on pandemic plan in 2005
H-E-B president Craig Boyan and director of emergency preparedness Justen Noakes offered a detailed and insightful look at the company’s year-round approach to preparedness that came in handy when COVID-19 hit.
In a rare interview, Boyan and Noakes shared specific details about H-E-B’s approach and a disaster preparedness plan that had been in the works since 2005 with Texas Monthly.
“We keep emergency supplies at almost every warehouse and have water and other supplies staged and ready to go and kept in storage to make sure that we are ready to [react quickly] when a crisis emerges, whether it be a hurricane or a pandemic,” Boyan told Texas Monthly.
Noakes described how H-E-B has been working on and refining a pandemic and influenza plan since 2005 when the threat of H5N1 emerged in China. The company began paying close attention to COVID-19 when it popped up in China the second week of January.
“We’ve got interests in the global sourcing world, and we started getting reports on how it was impacting things in China, so we started watching it closely at that point,” Noakes said.
H-E-B’s foresight, actions and philosophy toward disaster preparedness can serve as a model for other retailers, which could explain why the press shy company decided to share intimate details of its approach with Texas Monthly.