Just shy of a year after a tornado destroyed their Home Depot, employees who escaped being hurt are ready to reopen a rebuilt store that incorporates the home improvement retailer’s latest ideas.
The new Home Depot opens Thursday at its original spot on Forest Lane just east of North Central Expressway. Ten tornadoes on Oct. 20, 2019, caused $2 billion in damage to homes and businesses in Dallas, Richardson and Garland.
Store manager Jonathan Shields said about 50 of his former employees are back, and the store has hired another 150 people and plans to add as many as 50 more.
Three of Shields’ four assistant store managers returned, including Jordan Jasper, who made the fortunate call to send his co-workers home early on Oct. 20 after hearing the weather forecasts and likely saving some lives.
Jasper was honored at a ceremony attended by 500 area Home Depot employees a week after the tornado hit. He was awarded the store’s U.S. flag that survived the damage.
“We’re getting many of our associates back in the building, and we’ve developed a tight bond after going through the experience,” said Shields, a 17-year Home Depot veteran who was manager of the store for a year before it was hit.
After the tornadoes, Home Depot placed its employees in 14 stores that were closer to where they lived, and many of those workers decided to stay at those stores. Part of Shields’ job initially was to reach out to former employees and meet with their new store managers.
Some former employees who aren’t coming back have been promoted, including one assistant store manager who has moved to a warehouse job, Shields said.
A team usually comes in from corporate for Home Depot store openings, working with vendors and making sure merchandise is flowing in for the opening. Much of that work was done remotely with the store’s staff due to the pandemic.
Home Depot is one of the retailers that has benefited from the stay-at-home lifestyle. Both sales and profit increased about 25% in the second quarter, and digital sales doubled from a year ago. Customers picked up about 60% of their orders in stores.
The new store is built for speed, Shields said. The front of the store has two areas where online purchases can be picked up, one just for professional customers.
The store’s appliance showroom is Home Depot’s newest design, and floor and backsplash tiles are in one spot so shoppers can see how materials match up.
There is LED lighting throughout the building and in the parking lot where area residents have been regularly stopping by to ask when the store would reopen, Shields said. “We know contractors started shopping in other stores, and they’ve been telling us they can’t wait to have us reopen.”
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