Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Grimes Companies Makes Turf Dream Reality in Alaska

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Grimes Companies recently took part in the first-ever delivery of a high school football field playing surface to the town of Barrow, Alaska.

Previously, the Barrow High School Whalers faced a number of hardships trying to get their football program off the ground. In addition to lack of funding, low participation and poor facilities, the team practiced on a frozen muddy surface.

In Florida, Cathy Parker, the wife of a former NFL player, learned about the Whalers and decided to help in some way. She founded Project Alaska Turf and began seeking donations. Parker also engaged Bartram High School, where her husband served as a football coach.

But Parker and her volunteers soon discovered that Alaska’s permafrost conditions made growing grass impossible for the football field, so the decision was made to install artificial turf on a complete playing surface.

“Unfortunately those types of materials are pretty hard to come by in Alaska,” said Ike Sherlock, director of fleet operations for The Grimes Companies. “That’s when we got involved. Cathy Parker approached us about their logistics needs and transporting the field along with the necessary supplies up there.”

The job was a big one because there are no roads into Barrow, which lies north of the Arctic Circle. It is only accessible by air or dog sled. Sherlock was told there was no way to get a complete playing surface to such a remote location, but was determined to make it happen.

The Grimes Companies contacted carriers and providers across the country, even enlisting the support of its competitors. Companies including Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Bowhead Transport and UPS all agreed to help out.

Grimes Transportation donated all of its time and transport costs and coordinated the logistics and movement of all materials using nine different carriers while utilizing all modalities of transport including truck, rail, air and sea.

As the project gained momentum it received national press coverage, including featured segments on ESPN, ABC News and Good Morning America. NBC’s The Today Show was on hand for the installation of the field and the Whalers’ first game on Aug. 10.

“It just turned into this amazing thing,” said Michael O’Leary, president of The Grimes Companies. “To see it all come together in time for the Barrow Whalers’ first home game after the tremendous efforts of so many people was incredibly rewarding. We were just proud to be a part of something that we often forget about, how important it is to help others.”

The Grimes Companies, based in Jacksonville, Fla., operates both public and contract warehouses in Florida and Maryland. As a single-point solution for logistics and supply chain needs, TGC provides warehousing, transportation and packaging services to its clients. FileSafe, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Grimes Companies, offers document storage services to businesses in Northeast Florida.

This is a wonderful example of how a company can use its people and its services to help others, even those in a remote community thousands of miles away. Kudos to The Grimes Companies on also fostering partnerships with other businesses in its industry to help bring this ambitious project to fruition.

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