Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
The crew of Cal-Pacific Supply, from left, Jonathan Reyes, Urias Valazquez, Abraham Alamari, Mike Alamari, Marcos Ramirez and Edgar Caro gather with supplies at their warehouse on Noble Street.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Cal-Pacific Supply owner Mike Alamari already had plans for the future.
He began ordering water, toilet paper and any other supplies he could get his hands on to help, not only his agricultural customers, but also people in Madera.
On March 16, Alamari and his company gave out more than 330 cases of water and 4-roll packages of toilet paper. And he’s not done.
“A lot of people were grateful,” Alamari said. “We helped 350 families for a week. It was better than nothing. That’s why we want to do it again. If I can get more water, I want to do it again. If I can get my shipment of toilet paper, we want to do this in the next week.”
Alamari’s Cal-Pacific Supply (601 Noble St.) doesn’t usually sell water, but one of his suppliers offered and he accepted. After receiving a truck load, he divvied out portions to his brothers and a few farmers the he knew needed the supplies. From there, he had leftover and was trying to figure out what to do with it.
“I never sold water so I didn’t want to get stuck with all of this water,” he said. “We sell toilet paper and we got a small shipment of some premium toilet paper. I don’t want to sell this toilet paper because people will think I’m price gouging because it’s a different brand. We had some of our previous brand and enough. I had a pallet of this premium toilet paper. I could sell it, but people would be say why is this case $10 more than the other cases I would sell. Sunday night, I just thought, I had the toilet paper, I had the water, we’ll do a giveaway.”
Alamari put a post on Facebook in English and Spanish on Sunday evening at 8 p.m. for the giveaway at 7:30 Monday morning.
“We had people line up in cars and gave everybody a case of water and four rolls of toilet paper,” he said. “I said 200, but I knew it was going to be a little more. In the end, it was 336 people. We had plenty of toilet paper, but ran out of water.”
Alamari was astonished about how well-received the event went and how well the community responded.
“The response was huge on Facebook,” he said. “We had 300-400 likes in the first hour. I thought, might as well do it. People need it. It went really good. I didn’t anticipate it going that smoothly. There wasn’t a traffic log. We did the first 100 or so for the cars lined up. From then, we finished off the bulk of it with about three or four cars at a time. It was very smooth. Hopefully, when we do it again, we have a good feel for it.”
Alamari was happy he and his company was able to help so many people. He said many were grateful that he was doing this.
The next item Alamari is working on is getting a care-pallet organized to donate to the hospital. He is collecting bleach, disposable gloves, masks and other items to donate to Madera Community Hospital in the next week.
“I’m importing surgical masks and they will come in Wednesday.,” he said. “I was able to get disposable gloves. I kept a good amount for my regular customers. I’m not really selling to new customers or guys that want to buy extreme amounts.”
One of the problems was finding masks for his agriculture customers and also trying to help out the health community. He found out he couldn’t get the N-95 respirators they currently use, but found an alternate, the KN-95, a Chinese version.
“It still blocks out 95 percent of the particles that come through it. I’m importing those right now to try out. N-95 respirators are going to be out until August. All the big manufacturers are only producing for hospitals and FEMA. Those guys jumped in line. We won’t be getting that stock for a while. For the ag guys, what are they going to use. Ag is really booming right now. People are eating at home and produce sales have gone up in the past few weeks. I started thinking, when it comes time for these guys to spray, what are they going to use. Some of this stuff is lethal if they aren’t wearing some kind of mask. We did good by giving masks to the doctors and people on the front line, but we can have a bad scenario if we don’t have masks for people applying chemicals and pesticides. At least, we’re going to have something for the farm workers to use. Spray season is only a few weeks away.”
In January, Cal-Pacific had about 30,000 masks for sale out of the usual 200,000 they sell during the year. He was out of those masks by March and had to find a replacement.
“We felt the crunch in February,” Alamari said.
Now, Alamari is working on helping to supply those on the front lines as well as helping out the Madera community.
To find out more about Cal-Pacific and when their next supply will be, follow them on Facebook.