Truckers Upstage Relief Effort

While some of the biggest names in the industry were flocking to perform at telethons and benefit concerts for Hurricane Katrina survivors, one relief effort started with the kids at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica, Calif.

It ended with a half-dozen semis headed to Louisiana – some fresh off the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers tour. They were jam packed with food and supplies and making a pit stop in Slidell, La., en route to the Paul McCartney tour kickoff September 16th in Miami.

Employees at Los Angeles-based Tomzilla, Inc., a lighting and grid company, helped put together a hasty convoy when the kids at Franklin Elementary collected more than 90,000 pounds worth of goods.

Company founder Tom Browne contacted colleagues, including Matt Hanover, who called Mike “The Goon” McGinley of SRO Consultants. McGinley put out the call for help and Upstaging answered, routing more trucks to Santa Monica to help load supplies into empty containers that were headed east anyway.

“There are some people at the school who sent out e-mails to people they knew, explaining, ‘Hey, we want to send some relief supplies out to Louisiana. Bring your stuff to the school,'” McGinley told Pollstar. “The next thing they knew, they had so much stuff that it was lined up and down the street – way more than they could handle.”

McGinley took it from there.

“Matt Hanover called up and said, ‘Hey, don’t you know some rock ‘n’ roll guys with some nice trucks?'” McGinley explained. “I called up Robert Carone at Upstaging and it turned out the Petty trucks were dropping that day and on their way to Miami for McCartney. Hysterical, right?

“So Robert said, ‘No problem, I’ll alert my drivers.’ They coordinated the pickup here and dropped into Louisiana (September 10th). It was really, really cool.”

Hanover was pleasantly surprised with the mobilization once Upstaging, which is certainly used to getting in and out of town in a hurry, arrived on the scene.

“The drivers were great; they could not have been nicer,” Hanover told Pollstar. “Another company, Moving Pictures, a freight forwarding company, had a warehouse near [Los Angeles International Airport] and allowed us to use the warehouse.

“We got the fire department in Burbank, Calif., to help us load and we got the Marines to help us unload in Slidell, La.”

Most amazing to Hanover was that the entire effort, from the call for donations to delivery, was organized and completed in less than a week. It helps to know the right people and McGinley is the guy to know, Hanover said.

“Mike’s my go-to guy. The Goon always knows who knows.”

– Deborah Speer