On Aug. 25, 2017, Southeast Texas encountered one of the most destructive natural disasters the state has ever seen. Hurricane Harvey slammed Houston with drenching rain and intense flooding, leaving a wake of destruction. Thousands of small businesses suffered various damages and substantial economic injury. A year later, Harvey recovery remains uneven with many businesses still struggling.
Business owners, Bobby and Janice Jucker of Three Brothers Bakery, are still battling to maintain the good health of their business. When Hurricane Harvey hit, the bakery — devastated by the storm – was forced to shut down its three locations. Fortunately, it was only temporary.
Three Brothers Bakery’s Memorial and Washington Avenue locations opened six days after Harvey forced them to close their doors. The Braeswood location took in five feet of water but reopened 17 days after the watered receded.
Hurricane Harvey was not the first time Three Brothers Bakery encountered disaster. In 2001, powerful Tropical Storm Allison brought relentless flooding that closed Braeswood for three days. In 2008, Hurricane Ike ruined the location’s roof. The May 2015 “Memorial Day Flood,” and the April 2016 “Tax Day Flood,” flooded Braeswood further. Each time, Three Brothers Bakery reopened.
As a result of Hurricane Harvey, Three Brothers Bakery incurred about $1 million in lost revenue and suffered serious property damage. But the Juckers had a plan; and they knew exactly where to go for assistance.
The Juckers sought help from the University of Houston Texas Gulf Coast Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network for their business recovery needs. With the help and guidance of Houston Center SBDC business advisors, Lynn Billington and Charles Capers, the Juckers received a small business recovery disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). They used the disaster loan to purchase supplies and new equipment. However, the repairs and new purchases put them at a place where they have the same amount in debt.
“The disaster loan kept us in business,” said Janice Jucker. “Three Brothers Bakery would not have survived without the UH SBDC resources and guidance.”
Janice Jucker is a believer in small businesses and its impact on local economy growth. With several years’ experience in entrepreneurship, she is paying it forward. She frequently presents at the UH SBDC workshop “Starting Your Business,” sharing startup best practices and her journey as a business owner.
In April 2018, the Juckers received a 2018 Small Business Administration Phoenix Award for Outstanding Small Business Disaster Recovery for their recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey. She is also blazing the trial to help other small businesses recover from natural disasters.
“We applied for this award to highlight the hardships small businesses experience after disaster strikes, and to use our story when we speak to lawmakers about strengthening disaster-loan programs that can help small businesses recover,” said Janice.
When asked to share advice for new business owners, Janice said, “It’s critical to have an emergency and disaster preparedness plan as part of your long-term business strategy.” She also said it’s important to get the appropriate insurance policy, understand that policy, and to transfer business documents and employee contacts in the cloud—as this prevents the loss of documents and enables you to quickly contact your staff.
So, what’s next for Three Brothers Bakery? The Juckers are focusing on maximizing the bakery’s online presence and looking to expand in the near future. The Bakery will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2019 and is excited to meet the next generation of Houstonians.
- Photo Credit: Katrina Kidder (Flood Photo)
- Photo Credit: UH SBDC Network (Bakery Photo)