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How Great Clips Helped Rockport Back on Its Feet After Hurricane Harvey

The hair-care franchise helped provide scholarships for students who lost their senior year after the hurricane.

By Ben Warren1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSORED 4:16PM 10/12/18

Last year, Hurricane Harvey swept through the southern coast of Texas, leaving tens of thousands of homes and businesses destroyed by winds and flooding. Few cities were affected as dramatically as Rockport, Texas, which was located directly in Harvey’s path and lost roughly 20 percent of its population as a result.

Benny Mota is a Great Clips owner alongside his wife Annie with one salon in Rockport and another two in Corpus Christi. Mota’s Corpus Christi locations missed the worst of the hurricane, sustaining only minor structural damages, but his Rockport location, like so many other businesses in the city, was a total loss.

It took Mota nearly five months to re-open his Rockport Great Clips, and he predicts it’ll be a while longer before it fully bounces back.

“I think it’ll be another one or two years before we fully recover,” he said. “The town was hit really hard, and the economy is going to feel the effects for a long time.”

In the weeks and months following Harvey, Mota says his community banded together to help rebuild the city.

“Even as everyone was rebuilding their own homes and businesses, we all got together and tried to help each other, neighbor to neighbor,” he said.

Soon after the hurricane, Mota reached out to his local Chamber of Commerce, which was working with a number of local businesses to think of ways to help the community. One of the ideas they came up with was to raise money for scholarships for students affected by the hurricane.

Harvey struck at the end of August, just as many schools were getting started. Some schools were  demolished by the storms, displacing thousands of students.

“Our school in Rockport was shut down, which was a terrible loss,” Mota said. “Kids had to go to schools miles away, athletes missed their entire season, and for seniors, their final year was taken from them.”

Mota agreed to use his Great Clips salon to raise money for a fund that would provide college scholarships for seniors affected by the hurricane, and when he notified  Great Clips’ corporate team, they decided to get involved as well.

“I told Steve Hockett, [Great Clips’ CEO] about the plan, and he came back and pledged to contribute, on behalf of Great Clips Inc., to the fund on top of what we raised,” Mota said.

“Benny and Annie, being an incredibly optimistic couple, rolled up their sleeves and committed to reopen Great Clips, even as their staff scattered as far as Colorado to find a temporary place to live. Then, Benny had the great idea to award scholarships to high school kids at Rockport High to give back to the community, and to lend a hand-up to kids whose homes or families or support groups were devastated by the hammer of Harvey,” said Hockett. “Once we heard of their plan for the kids of Rockport High, Great Clips Inc. tripled the number of scholarships Benny and Annie offered as a way of supporting great people, great franchisees and a great community. It might even bring a tear of joy to your eyes, thinking about the impact our franchisees have on the communities where they live and operate salons.”

Great Clips helped the Rockport Chamber of Commerce raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, enough for 10 full scholarships for students affected by the hurricane. And Mota said the benefits of that effort extended beyond the students who received scholarships.

“The response was really amazing,” he said. “I think people were really inspired, and it showed how capable we are of coming together and bouncing back from destruction.”

On a smaller scale, Great Clips also contributed to Mota’s Rockport store to help his employees make it through the storm’s aftermath, providing gift cards and even grants to help with the various expenses Mota’s employees were facing.

“Great Clips was there to help immediately,” he said. “Right off the starting block, they sent gift cards to help with groceries and things like that. They also awarded grants to a number of our employees who needed extra help. It was incredible. We were all very touched.”

In March, Mota’s Rockport celebrated a grand re-opening. The town still had a lot of work to do in rebuilding, as it still does today, but Mota said the event was a celebration of how far the town had come.

“The grand re-opening was great, and not just for our store,” he said. “The Chamber of Commerce came out, and the event signified how we were able to overcome the hurricane, and how determined we were to rebuild.”

Mota says that determination continues today, thanks in no small part to the support he and the city of Rockport have received from Great Clips, and while the community still has plenty of work to do, Mota is confident it will recover.

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