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Avanti reflects on first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy

Avanti SandyArthur and Sandy Tauber
Moonachie, N.J. - The word "celebrate" at first feels wrong.

But to a degree, Avanti has cause for just that, having come full circle a year since the brutal storm - Hurricane Sandy - pummeled the Northeast and left the 44-year-old towel company almost completely crippled.

The saving grace: Avanti's 200 employees - a dedicated staff that worked 25 consecutive days to get the company back on its feet - along with a team of top executives that lead the effort.

Ask Arthur Tauber, the company's chairman and co-founder with his wife, Sandy, and tears come to his eyes.

"I break down every time I start talking about it," he told HTT. "There's no greater feeling to know so many people helped us and that they appreciated that they were able to keep their jobs and that we overcame it. It's fantastic."

As he recalled, "We cleaned up everything, got rid of $5 million of machinery and towels, and got back in business on November 25. But it was not thanks to me. I was sitting here during whole episode basically crying because I was useless during the whole thing. It was Jeff [Kaufman, president and coo] and Michael [Tauber, president of sales] who took charge and made it happen. I think at the beginning I didn't have a company any more. But we had a very successful year in 2012 and a better year this year."

To mark the hurricane's first anniversary yesterday, Avanti on held an office lunch for its 200-person staff "to thank everyone for their hand work and for getting us back to where we were," Kaufman said.

Also at the luncheon, the company presented Arthur and Sandy Tauber with a special award - the "Stronger than the Storm" - signed by all of the company's employees.

"We gave them an award because Arthur and Sandra Tauber were committed to doing whatever needed to be done to get us back in business and up and running," said Kaufman. "All of our employees were paid throughout the recovery, whether they were able to come in [to the office] or not. And we just wanted to give [the Taubers] a thank you for managing us through it, for their loyalty, for their support to everyone here through that difficult time."

Arthur Tauber said he now displays the "beautiful plaque [award] in our front vestibule."


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