2 Years After Hurricane Harvey – Three Brothers Bakery Now Advocates at State and Federal Levels for Legislation to Help More Small Businesses Survive Natural Disasters

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After 70 Years and 4 Natural Disasters Three Brothers Bakery Embodies & Encourages Small Business Resiliency by Sharing their Knowledge and Creating Awareness of Problems Faced by Small Businesses

Three Brothers Bakery surrounded by water during Hurricane Harvey, Photo Credit: Katrina Kidder

Three Brothers Bakery surrounded by water during Hurricane Harvey, Photo Credit: Katrina Kidder

“Small businesses are the income stream for 50% of America; we need to make sure they are not forgotten and survive and thrive after disasters,” said Janice Jucker.

Who knew after 4 days of rain and 4.5 feet of water in Janice and Bobby Jucker’s family business, Three Brothers Bakery, that they would become passionate advocates for small business survivorship after natural disasters? After taking approximately $750,000 in SBA Disaster loans due to Hurricane Harvey, Three Brothers Bakery became eligible for the 2018 SBA Phoenix Award for Outstanding Small Business Disaster Recovery. When receiving the award, the Juckers realized it could help them amplify the troubles of small businesses after disasters. They now work to share with other businesses how to be prepared before a disaster and what to do should you be hit by a disaster. Additionally, they have identified policy changes, at both the state and federal levels, that would help this forgotten segment in the resiliency quotient. Lastly, they want to start a movement to “Shop Disaster Zones,” and help businesses in these financially devastated areas recover economically.

The Juckers applied for the SBA Phoenix Award as a way to help spread the message of what small businesses go through after disasters. They have seen many, many businesses close due to Hurricane Harvey. “After natural disasters everyone works hard to get people back in their homes, paying their rents and mortgages, and then their employer goes out of business,” said Janice Jucker. The Juckers know many in the food and retail industry that were unable to hang on until the community recovered because they are low margin and do not tend to have much of a safety net in the bank. And it is their employees, most hourly, who lose their jobs and can least afford it.

When governments and institutions work toward disaster recovery, the small business seems to be a forgotten segment. The Juckers want to change that mindset. During the 2021 Texas legislature, they are going to try to get passed Emergency Bridge Loans, activated by the Governor of Texas modeled after the Florida program. This would loan short term cash to the small business owner, which could be used to pay their employees. At a federal level suspension of payroll tax for a period after federally declared disasters would put needed cash in both the pockets of the small business owner and the employee.

After a policy conference at The PEW Research Institute’s Flood Prepared Communities Project, the Jucker’s learned there is a 6:1 return on investment for every dollar spent on mitigation, and flooding is the costliest disaster to taxpayers in the United States. The Juckers are now talking with lawmakers about multi-flooded businesses and the return on investment to the taxpayer to move them.

Janice Jucker has now sat on many panels and given talks about small business resiliency. She advises businesses to be prepared with a long list of things they should do, with the top 3 being:

  • Read your insurance policies cover to cover, with a highlighter, BEFORE a disaster;
  • Keep employee contact information in the cloud, so it can be easily accessed;
  • Try to have 3 months of cash in the bank – you can only pay your team with cash, and the rest can be put on credit cards (so have high credit limits).

Recovery has 4 categories to be addressed:

  • People – find the team and pay them and make sure they get the help they might need;
  • Money – is there enough cash to get through short term and long term, and if not, how will recovery be funded;
  • Equipment/Vehicles/Inventory – assess damage and start repairs replacement;
  • Return to Operations – clean up and communicate with your team and your customers about what is the plan to reopen and a timeframe, if possible.

While in Washington, D.C. accepting their award, the Juckers encouraged the attendees to “Shop Disaster Zones,” meaning find a business in a disaster area that ships and shop with them to help them recover economically because their communities are financially devastated. It was at that dinner that they met the team from VISA, and it was their story which inspired VISA to put a spotlight on small business resiliency. The bakery can be seen with the launch of VISA’s back to business project – visa.com/backtobusiness, which identifies open businesses for up to 3 months after a federally declared disaster.

To put it in perspective, Three Brothers Bakery was on a growth trajectory after adding stores in 2012 and 2014. That growth was put on hold as three floods in less than three years decimated the area they serve in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Hurricane Harvey proved to be the hardest recovery both physically and economically. Until recently the Juckers were told only 30% of the people lived in the area around the bakery and now that number is up to 50%. The Juckers say it will be 5-8 years after Harvey to have the community close to 90%-100% repopulated.

“Small businesses are the income stream for 50% of America; we need to make sure they are not forgotten and survive and thrive after disasters,” said Janice Jucker.

For more information about Three Brothers Bakery, or small business resiliency and recovery after natural disasters please contact Janice Jucker at 713-299-2139 or media(at)3brothersbakery(dot)com.

About Three Brothers Bakery

The traditions of Three Brothers Bakery began in Chrzanow, Poland circa 1825, and were preserved despite the family’s concentration camp imprisonment during the Holocaust. Their miraculous liberation, and subsequent move to Houston, brought Eastern European scratch baking traditions to 4036 S. Braeswood Blvd, 12393 Kingsride Lane, and 4606 Washington Ave where the owners are now proud to call themselves “memory makers who happen to be bakers®.” Perfecting the process for almost 200 years, each day the fifth generation scratch bakers produce mostly dairy-free breads and pastries, cookies, a full line of specialty dessert cakes and pies, as well as custom birthday, special occasion, wedding and groom’s cakes using only the highest quality ingredients.

The Three Brothers Bakery pecan pie was named “the Best Mail Order Pecan Pie America has to offer” by Country Living magazine multiple times; bakery owner, Bobby Jucker, competed in the popular ‘Food Network Challenge’ and has been seen on Food Network’s Outrageous Food and other national food shows. Three Brothers Bakery won “Best Mail-Order Pies 2012” from Bon Appetit, as well as Modern Baking’s “2013 Retail Bakery of the Year” and was part of The Knot’s “2010-2013 Best of Weddings” and “Hall of Fame” picks. In 2019, the bakery won the SBA’s Family-Owned Small Business of the Year by the Houston division. Three Brothers Bakery was named one of “America’s 20 Best Bakeries” by The Daily Meal in 2016 and in 2017 blue ribbon champion at the American Pie Council’s National Pie Championship for their key lime pie in that category, and in 2018, the bakery’s Pumpecapple Pie Cake was featured on BuzzFeed’s ‘Worth It’ web series.

In 2018, Three Brothers Bakery received the SBA Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery and encourages everyone to “shop disaster zones” to help small businesses recover after natural disasters.

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Janice Jucker
@3brothersbakery
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