Photo by Tom McDonald

I was just about to sit down for dinner with my wife when I got a phone call concerning some trouble at the Houston ACK Store. At first, it was brought to my attention that the alarm was going off so I got on the horn and got the situation handled accordingly…until my phone went off again and I got some incredibly disturbing news. Indeed the alarm had gone off, but it had done so for an entirely different reason. It turned out that the store had caught fire and the entire back half was engulfed in flames. My wife and I quickly left the restaurant and flew down the highway as fast as possible.

Upon arriving at my “home away from home”, I could not believe what I was seeing. Over a dozen fire trucks, police squad cars and arson police were on site handling the task at hand and saving what was left of the Houston ACK location. Lauren, my wife, said it best when she stated that it resembled a “war zone”.  To be perfectly honest the feeling I first felt was nausea. Over the course of the next 2-3 hours we waited until we were granted entry into the store. The stench was overwhelming of burnt mulch and molten polyethylene. The fire had started in the business behind ours and spread to our back wall. The damage was severe, but we would not fully grasp the surreal nature of the damage until first light of the next day.

The makeshift sales floor, come on by and see us!

The next morning myself and Andrew began to assess the situation and begin the reclamation process. Even with all of our employees, the task was daunting and we quickly knew we would need more hands. Right then a call for help was put out and the response was awe inspiring. I used to see this store as a business with a devoted customer base but this really redefined the word “devoted”. It really got me thinking when I got a chance to step back and soak in what was taking place. Sure ACK is a business, but more importantly we are a family and are part of a kayaking community. The amount of people that showed up to help get us back on our feet was amazing. Be it either helping wash boats that were not damaged, removing destroyed product or any other task that presented itself, we had help in every aspect of the word. Without their selfless sacrifice of time and energy, we would not be where we are today at this point in time.

That is why this blog is a tribute to them. We will always be thankful for your efforts over those crucial days following the fire.  Our customers and friends are the reason we even exist and now more than ever that rings true. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything you guys and gals did. There aren’t enough words to describe what you guys have done for us.

Jerron @ACK Houston