Granny’s Alliance Disaster Response

Granny’s Alliance Holdings, Inc. is perhaps the most recognized disaster relief company for portable facilities provisioning in the United States. The company provides portable restrooms, showers, laundry trailers and other equipment for disaster response. The company holds a large equipment inventory, which it urgently deploys to areas devastated by hurricanes, forest fires, and other disasters. The Granny’s Alliance urgent response team works in collaboration with other responders to provide complete turn-key base camp operations or single-resource support systems.
What Granny’s Alliance Means to the U.S.
The Granny’s team has worked on the scene to provide relief during wildfires and hurricanes, including Katrina, Ike, Sandy, Harvey, and numerous others. They’ve operated in the aftermath of many major floods and tornado outbreaks, and they’ve supported petroleum refineries and pipelines. The company provided support during the recovery from the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The emergency provider’s ability to work in complicated environments, ravaged by massive disasters has earned them the trust of U.S. government disaster response services and private industrial corporations as well.
Examples of the company’s work include providing two 4,000-turnkey base camps to meet the needs of survivors and utility workers after Hurricane Sandy and the brutal storm that hit the New York coast shortly afterward. After Hurricane Michael, the Granny’s team created a base camp for the state of Florida, to shelter, feed, and support over 650 workers. The company also provided base camps during the USW strike shutdowns.
Granny’s Alliance experts provided expert management, site preparation, power generation, billeting, full ablution services, catering, laundry services, MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) services, security, and badging. The company’s superior attention to detail has made its disaster services indispensable in widespread, long-term recovery operations from the most disastrous events in the modern history of the United States and Puerto Rico.
How the Alliance was Born
Granny’s Alliance Holdings was founded in 2000. It’s a family business owned by women, including Susan Heisy and two others her family. Heisy’s son Jason and brother Doug are VPs. Jason and Doug both handle various logistics, and Susan has dedicated herself to the administrative side of the operation.
The company’s headquarters is in Idaho, and its southern operations are based in Mississippi, which is where Susan’s office is located. The business also has staging centers throughout the United States. Susan tells the story of the Granny’s Alliance unlikely beginning:
My parents had art galleries. I was raised in an art environment. I had an entrepreneurial spirit. I got some education in the art field. It started with a natural desire to design. I went immediately into clothing and interior design and marketing across the country. I was an interior designer and clothing designer.
My husband decided to go help a friend with forest fire work, working on his mobile shower and mobile pumping system on the west coast. He came back from that experience and said he couldn’t believe how bad the firefighters have it, and he said, “Let’s see if we can design something better.”
Granny’s Growth
We asked about the kinds of growth that Granny’s Alliance has undergone, and any patterns that Susan has recognized over the company’s nineteen years in operation. If you ask our CPA, our growth is unheard-of, starting from 2000 to today. We have over 200 pieces of outdoor equipment. We do a lot of jobs with a lot of brokers who hire vendors. We are planning to grow in the events area. My granddaughter has just taken that over recently and has big plans for it.
We work with government agencies and private sector contractors. We have about 42 employees, but the number varies. We do mainly emergency response. In the off-season, we may be down to around 15 people, and in high season we may have up to 125 employees or more.
Asked, how Granny’s secures new customers, Susan explains that about 60% of Granny’s new business comes from bidding for government contracts. She attributes the other 40% or so to the company’s growing base of private sector contracts.
We advertise, we do a lot of the hurricane conferences, and other conferences, and trade shows. We do every state’s emergency management conference, and one on one contacts. We make a lot of calls. We want to make sure we’re able to deliver quality products, and we stand by our service and what we’re providing to make sure that the problems we work to solve are solved.
Industry Relationships
Asked about the company’s relationships with its vendors, Susan reflects on the journey through her years in leadership at Granny’s. As far as valuing our vendors, it’s a small industry. We wouldn’t be where we are today without our vendor relationships. Asked about the off-season operations activities, she makes it all sound simple:
There are a lot of contract renewals, maintenance, and preparedness. Because of our size, we’re required by FEMA and other government agencies to maintain our NIMS (National Incident Management System) training and safety training, and we’re continually working on that.
We try to fill out our understanding of just how complex the work is in a such a multifariously faceted operation, on which the sustained safety and welfare of so many depend in the most extreme situations. We don’t have to look far for insights. It becomes abundantly clear from the company’s moving testimonials from U.S. military commanders, corporate officers, and disaster field workers alike (shared throughout the company’s top-quality website), that Granny’s Alliance has built a stellar reputation among the major government and private-sector disaster services clients in the industry.
Branding Brilliance – Granny’s Alliance
Asked how the business arrived at such a unique identity, with the name “Granny’s Alliance,” Susan tells the story of how this piece of branding genius was generated. The name Granny’s goes back to when my husband went out on that wildfire. We were having our first grandchild, and I was not ready for that.
He suggested the name. I said, No.” He said, “Where do you get better care and service than from your grandmother.” He painted the picture of the great service and loving care you get from your grandmother. My husband is very persuasive.
We asked if she and her team ever take a moment to marvel at their level of marketing and branding brilliance in choosing such a name. Susan merely reflects on a simple but highly-enlightening indicator. My brother was in one of the classrooms at an emergency response conference. The speaker was asking attendees what they have as their vendor lists, and how they know who they’re going to call. One person said that Granny’s Alliance stood out and was the only name he could remember.
Business Structure
Susan Heisy is Granny’s Alliance Holdings, Inc. President and CEO. There are two other partners in the trio of partners who own the business, Kim Evans, in Montana, and Susan’s brother’s wife, Cherry Burtch. Both Kim and Cherry have LTD partnership interests. Kim, who has a young family, works for the company in the field occasionally.
Asked how Susan and her team have achieved their amazing level of efficiency in response to emergency calls for their services all over the country, she muses that they’ve learned from rough experience and have developed the ability to avoid efficiency issues. We have a great team ready to deploy and experts in all arenas — equipment, plumbing, and transportation, which is one of our target focuses on deployments.
Our growth has been emergency-related. It’s why we built the company in the first place, and it’s where our focus has been. Diversification from that into the private sector has been environment-related. It’s very fun and fulfilling work, and now that we’re both nearing retirement (Susan and her husband), we’re excited to see what rest of the family will do with it.
Safety in Disaster Relief Provisioning
Asked what the biggest challenges have been for Granny’s, its CEO’s answer is not the typical list of issues to do with equipment maintenance and personnel retention. In the case of a company like Granny’s Alliance, we would also have imaged glaring problems around safety in traveling, navigating through disaster-stricken areas, etc.
Instead, her answer is utterly unexpected: The biggest problem is probably being always ready to go and waiting to go. We’re like racehorses ready to get out of the gate. We always want to get there and make things happen to help others. Otherwise, the challenge in all those aspects is pretty equal.
There have been a few occasions when we’ve had to demobilize, during IKE and Gustav, because another hurricane came right after the first one. During the flooding after Harvey, our team came pretty close to being trapped in water. Close calls are rare because safety is so important. Agencies we provide services don’t want their vendors to be in danger. Once search and rescue are over, we’re in recovery mode.
Asked about operating equipment and technologies, Susan explains that there’s a lot of software coming out every year and that Granny’s Alliance management is very conscious of all new technologies that have the potential to make a positive impact on their operations. Currently, the team uses satellite radios as well as GPS systems in the vehicles.
Granny’s Disaster Relief Services Facilities
Granny’s Alliance provides state-of-the-art disaster management. The teams highly experienced experts, are well trained in Incident Command Systems (ICS), and the company is well-known as a leader in the industry. Management maintains the ideal perspective on not necessarily offering the cheapest service, but realizing the importance of providing every person who uses their portable restroom, shower, and wash, dry & fold laundry services, and mobile sleeping units the best value.
In other words, Granny’s makes its mission to provide the comforts of home to survivors, relief workers, utility workers and others who need to function as normally as possible in the most extreme environmental circumstances.
The company provides high-quality green equipment, enabling safer operating conditions for work crews functioning in mid- and downstream locations. Using only anti-bacterial soaps, cleaning supplies, and other bio-friendly relief-station products, and hot water on-demand reduces the risk of work-environment illnesses and increases productivity and cost-efficiency for Granny’s and their client agencies and corporations.
In addition to the national team’s mobile equipment response services for major disasters, the business also provides equipment to venues for festivals, sporting events, festivals, and large field operations for oil industry clients.
Asked about what products or services Granny’s has added recently or plans to add in the foreseeable future, Susan explains the company’s exciting expansion plans. In addition to its disaster relief services facilities rentals, Granny’s is positioning to launch a full-scope events services division. Susan’s granddaughter is currently working on research and development of the channel model for the new events services rentals appendage.
Advice for New Market Entrants in Disaster Relief Services
We asked Susan Heisy, premier industry authority, what advice she would give to newcomers to disaster relief services business ownership. As appears to be characteristic of her, Susan’s answer is succinct and reflective on her priority — an overarching interest in helping, and on the need for newcomers to that effort to understand what it entails.
The only advice I would offer to a newcomer is to realize if you’re moving into the emergency response side of the industry, there are going to be a lot of situations that are going to be difficult to work through. You’re going to see unpleasant sights. Your goal must be to respond with integrity, and a good heart, and be willing to help. If you don’t have the capacity for that, you’re in the wrong industry. If you do, it’s hard work, and it’s very rewarding work.
In her big-picture perspective, Susan seems to take stock of a lifetime, a career, a family team of professionals, and of a long journey in helping others in the worst possible circumstances — of making a difference in the world. Again in her way of expressing expansive concepts in the most concise but thoughtful terms, she says simply, “God has blessed us and our pathway, to provide us with this opportunity.”
Leadership Excellence and Granny’s Alliance
We’ll add here our bit of advice for incoming competitors sharing the field with Granny’s Alliance: There’s a wealth of education to be gained in the example of Susan Heisy’s leadership and team. Certainly, the wake of a catastrophic event is not a place for the faint-hearted, or for entrepreneurs merely seeking a subsector in which to gain some market share.
The level of commitment required to function over the long-term repeatedly on the edge in such shocking environments and to maintain the extreme rigors of the operational pace and training necessary to demonstrate the level of readiness at all times for response on very short notice takes a team and leadership with exceptional fortitude and integrity.
This extraordinary company and its management stand out in the portable restroom, shower-trailers, and laundry facilities rental business for so much more than the exceptional brand recognizability that originally captured our attention. Granny’s Alliance Holdings, under the guidance of Susan Heisy, stands out as a facilities and management provider that exemplifies the highest levels of reliability, capacity to meet demands of its national market consistently.
Further, Granny’s team personifies the courage to go, unflinching, directly to ground zero in those places on earth from which others are fleeing. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Granny’s and companies like it, that help our friends and relatives and us in the worst of times. So, thank you very much, Granny’s Alliance.


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