Henry Rodriguez and his father pushed their backs against the door while his mother and two sisters huddled in the center of the small room. Despite being an interior room, the hurricane winds pounded at the door, making them wonder what remained of the rest of their home. Henry and his father held their position for hours, trying to keep the last barrier between them and Hurricane Andrew intact.
When the pounding finally ceased, the weary family cautiously exited the windowless room, blinking at the sunlight that was pouring in where their kitchen ceiling used to be. The Rodriguez family survived the storm, but it left an indelible imprint on young Henry. At only 19 years old, he had experienced a lesson on protecting his family that most men never have to learn firsthand.
And the lesson wasn’t over. Their home was exposed. They were exposed. For months, the Rodgriguez family and their community had to survive without power or running water. They patched their homes with boards and tarps, driving over an hour for ice to keep their food cold.
To prepare for the hurricane, Henry’s family had done what most families do. They boarded the windows and secured the house as best they could.
“It was as if the storm was laughing at the plywood over our windows,” Henry says. “It splintered the boards, sending wood and glass everywhere.”
When the storm worsened, they hid in an interior, windowless room, and yet, their safety came down to a single door.
Henry’s family recovered from the ordeal, but he wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone, which is why what he does for a living is so rewarding. As a project manager of Wright’s Impact Window & Door, he has spent the last three years helping homeowners in the Keys fortify their houses for hurricanes that inevitably come to the islands.
“With every job we complete, I feel a sense of peace coming not only from the homeowners but from my 19-year-old self.”
Henry explains that the homeowners’ peace extends well beyond protecting a house during a storm. Impact windows, doors, and shutters save owners from having to choose between boarding up their homes and quickly evacuating to safety. Plus, it keeps homeowners off ladders in dangerous conditions.
“Many people don’t consider that boarding up a home can be dangerous in itself,” Henry explains. “Some of my most rewarding projects are for elderly people because I know we just saved them from climbing up ladders in an effort to protect their home.”
Henry had worked for another window company before Wright’s, but made the switch because he appreciated the company’s family-oriented business model. They support a team environment and, as such, have a smooth-running system in place in the Keys that is a successful extension of their South Florida network.
“As a project manager, it’s nice to work for a company that is well-organized. With our office and warehouse in Tavernier working seamlessly with our headquarters, we can complete jobs throughout the Keys efficiently.”
Henry’s job takes him from Key Largo to Key West, giving him an “office” view that top executives dream of. He gets to enjoy the beauty of the Keys from equally beautiful homes, whether it’s a small bungalow or a multi-million-dollar house.
“It’s expensive to live in the Keys, and having impact windows and doors actually helps make it more affordable,” Henry says, further explaining that their products can save 30-40% on their customers’ homeowner’s insurance and significantly reduce their energy bills.
Out of the many benefits, however, Henry prizes the added safety above all, priding himself on installing life-saving barriers between his customers and a hurricane.
– Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor, who loves to travel with her family.