AMWAT Moving and Storage: a business anchored in community service
By Cilicia Anderson
When gun violence infiltrated Tallahassee a few years ago, Gloria Pugh stepped up with ideas to find a resolution.
Pugh was at the forefront again when she realized how poverty ravaged through some neighborhoods.
Now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Pugh again is being proactive.
All the time her husband, Dean, works at her side. Together they own AMWAT Moving Warehousing Storage of Tallahassee – she as the Chief Engineering Officer and he as the Chief Operating Officer.
Despite the demands of their business, Pugh finds time for community engagement.
“It’s like I cast this really big net because I wanted to do something about gun violence and I wanted to do something about poverty and it was just so enormous and I wasn’t really seeing the change that I wanted to see,” said Pugh. “So what I did was; I said ‘you know what, I need to reflect within my own company because some of my employees are having a hard time.’ ”
The work they have done in both the industry and the community has not gone unnoticed. During the first week of July, AMWAT was named Small Business of the Week by the U.S. Senate.
The local business was given the honor because of the owners’ “professionalism, excellence, and community involvement that has earned them multiple local and industry awards,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is chairman of the Senate Committee of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
“My Husband and I are so proud to be named business of the week,” said Pugh. “We love Tallahassee, we love living here and we feel a lot of responsibility, love, and attachment for our community. It is an honor to be recognized.”
The Pugh’s committed to community service goes back to the company’s beginning 23 years ago. Recently they’ve partnered with Second Harvest of the Big Bend, while assisting the Boys and Girls Club and the Junior League of Tallahassee.
Gloria Pugh’s passion for community even drove her to make a bid for Seat 1 on the City Commission in 2016.
Those who know the couple say their selflessness is remarkable.
“Gloria and Dean have been involved with Second Harvest for many years,” said Shari Hubbard, Director of Community Relations for the non-profit organization. “Hunger, food and security in the community have always been a really big concern of theirs so rather than just talk about it they actively created an event called AMWAT Fill-A-Truck.”
During the fifth year of the food drive last summer
AMWAT collected 36,000 pounds of food for Second Harvest. The company also raised $10,000 in donations in 2018.
Hubbard said the impact of the project is significant to Second Harvest’s mission. With last year’s donations, they delivered 40,000 meals, she said.
In addition to the food drive, AMWAT has also collected coats, blankets, and children’s books for needy residents.
Recent gun violence has gripped Pugh like it did six years again when she launched a campaign against guns. The recent death of an employee’s relative by gunshot has her speaking out again.
When Pugh began calling attention to gun violence, it was tabooed by local leaders. She managed to get Michael DeLeo, former chief of Tallahassee Police Department, involved and that changed the public perception about what could have become a crisis.
“I was very involved with the gun violence issue several years ago, it’s been about two years that we, a committee of individuals, worked with the Tallahassee Police Department to try and resolve the gun violence issue, but unfortunately our recommendations fell on deaf ears,” said Pugh.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a new challenge for Pugh and her husband. They’ve taken their concern for safety beyond their employees to their clients, constantly tracking the latest CDC updates.
They have purchased new soap and hand sanitizer machines, new air filters and air circulators for their office and warehouse.
“Anything that the CDC is putting out saying ‘this is what helps prevent the spread of the virus, this is what helps with mitigating, we have it,” said Pugh. “And we’re not increasing our prices, we’re not passing it along to the client, my husband and I are absorbing it.”
The pandemic has had such an impact on their employees that Pugh and her husband have decided to offer them financial bonuses and food.
The gesture and their passion for community involvement just seem like second-nature for the Pugh’s.
“They are passionate advocates for our community and they take action in order to give back and make a tangible difference,” said Hubbard. “I can’t think of another business that is more deserving of this (small business) award and I’m very excited to hear that they have been acknowledged and honored in this way.”