Hero Anthony Shipp: Coordinating Aid to Maui Wildfire Victims

Anthony Shipp

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When wildfires consumed the Hawaiian island of Maui in August, Anthony Shipp’s reaction was immediate, and powerful.

“I felt a deep connection to the situation,” recalled Shipp, president and CEO of Oahu-based logistics company M. Dyer Global. “Maui is not just another island but part of our ohana,” he said, invoking the Hawaiian word for family.

For one M. Dyer employee, the family connection was genuine; inbound commercial coordinator Tasha Kaiwi is from Maui, and four generations of her family living in the town of Lahaina lost their homes in the fire. The Aug. 8 wildfires completely destroyed Lahaina.

Shipp’s own mother also urged him to act. “Once the news hit, we talked and she said, ‘Tony, you have to find a way to help these people; if anyone can do it, you can,’ ” Shipp said. “My mom may not fully understand what I actually do for work, but she knew I had some trucks, people and the ability to move whatever I could to Maui.”

Shipp is being recognized as one of Transport Topics’ Trucking’s Frontline Heroes for 2023 on Oct. 17 during American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition in Austin, Texas.

Shipp knew an immediate response to the wildfires was needed, “and it had to be big,” he said. He deployed the company’s logistics capabilities and physical assets, and launched a social media campaign urging people to bring donations directly to M. Dyer in Pearl City, where the company could sort goods, load them onto ocean containers and send them to Maui. M. Dyer covered all costs.

Kaiwi and several workers at the employee-owned moving, relocation, packing, storage and logistics services company founded in 1968 recommended an online fundraising effort.

“The rest of my siblings and best friends came with the same level of support,” Shipp said. “My sister, Rhetta, asked if she could Amazon-ship items to my warehouse, and I said yes. This became a way for mainland people to send new items based on what they felt would be helpful. We took it all and ensured it made its way to Maui.”

Donations poured in from around Hawaii and the U.S. mainland, including from Shipp’s mother in Huntington Beach, Calif.

“During challenging times like these, we truly see the beauty of the human spirit,” Shipp said.

I genuinely believe in the values of being American. ... That was my call to action; that voice in my head told me I had to do the right thing, do it now, and make it count.

Anthony Shipp, president and CEO of logistics company M. Dyer Global

Anthony Shipp

Shipp, who grew up in San Diego, has lived in Hawaii for 13 years. “I’ve been involved in trucking transportation, logistics and 3PL since 1997. Over the years, the Hawaiian culture has become an integral part of my identity, and the trucking industry has given me a deep understanding of logistics and the power of organized efforts,” he said.

Shipp said he was amazed at how quickly his team mobilized and made a direct impact, but transportation was no easy matter as the water in the Maui harbor was strewn with debris and boat hulls. This blocked passage of relief goods since most of the boats at the 99 moorings there either burnt or sank. Shipp said his crew were accepting such a volume of donations and sending so many loaded ocean containers that Maui port authorities asked that cargo flows into the port be adjusted to ease congestion.

Trucking's Frontline Heroes is an annual award series presented by Transport Topics that recognizes the brave men and women who go above and beyond the call of duty to meet the challenges the industry faced over the past year. In 2023 we recognize:
Anthony Shipp
James Sadler 
Look back at past years' heroes

M. Dyer’s warehouse overlooking Pearl Harbor became a hub of activity, with Shipp posting numerous notices, photos and videos of himself on social media with appeals for items needed to help victims and situational updates. The company got six full ocean containers to Maui with a total gross weight of 200,000 pounds within three days of the fires.

“These supplies were a lifeline for many, providing essential items such as food, water, clothing and first aid equipment,” Shipp noted. “This immediate response ensured that the people of Maui did not have to wait for help, providing some relief during an incredibly challenging time.”

Using his extensive network in the community, transportation industry and state, Shipp worked with local government, ports, nonprofits, nongovernment organizations, religious organizations and Native Hawaiian groups to be the consignee on these shipments to leverage his expertise and help ensure items moved as quickly as possible.

That said, Shipp was quick to offer praise to his staff.

“From our warehouse staff to our drivers, everyone willingly gave their time and skills, working long hours to ensure the relief reached Maui promptly,” he said. “At this point, we have dedicated hundreds of hours, limitless resources in terms of manpower, fuel, trucking services, warehousing operations, labor to sort, pick, pack and load, and drayage to and from the port. Much of it was done on donated time, and M. Dyer’s contribution may not have been in the form of cash, it was hard work directly from our hearts.”

M. Dyer Global employees and family

M. Dyer Global employees and family members take a break during their aid collection work. (M. Dyer Global via Facebook)

For the first two weeks after the fires, M. Dyer continued to offer free shipping of aid. Bottled water, medical supplies, pet supplies, diapers and other necessities were among the items Shipp helped carry over the water to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the fires.

“Our relief efforts included pet food, bedding and other essential items to ensure the animals were not forgotten during this crisis. I also have a few friends who are big-time animal lovers who asked me if they could donate items for the animals,” Shipp said. One of his friends, who owns a horse in Oahu, organized the company’s animal relief response. “I estimate we shipped at least 5,000 to 7,000 pounds of pet supplies, including food,” he added.

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“It’s amazing to witness how quickly people can come together, bridging gaps, to support one another during a crisis,” he remarked. “Service to others and to a greater cause than oneself is the most important factor of life, in my humble opinion.”

Always encouraging, Shipp’s social media messages and videos revealed a positive spirit, gratitude to those who helped and a can-do attitude. One of those messages underscored his optimism: “The #Aloha spirit was strong! Your efforts and contributions do not go unnoticed, we appreciate all those that have been working tirelessly to support the relief efforts on Maui!”

Shipp added, “I genuinely believe in the values of being American. During my time in the U.S. Marine Corps, our core values are honor, courage and commitment. From that lens, that was my call to action; that voice in my head told me I had to do the right thing, do it now, and make it count.”

M. Dyer Global volunteers wrap aid packages

Volunteers wrap aid packages destined for Maui. (M. Dyer Global via Facebook) 

The disaster area affected more than 800 businesses with 7,000 employees. The total lost business revenue was estimated at $2.7 million per day. A month later, over 7,500 displaced survivors still lived in various housing accommodations after more than 2,000 homes were destroyed. Between $4 billion and $6 billion in losses are projected to result from the wildfires, according to an Aug. 22 estimate by Moody’s RMS, a top global integrated risk assessment company. The rental income loss is about $2 million per month on Lahaina, since 50% of the homes there were rentals going for around $1,700 per month.

Shipp said as of mid-September he was working with specific NGOs for on-the-ground support in Maui by providing organized shipments of specific items instead of the immediate response with mixed loads.

“We can no longer ship for free, but we did work a special rate with the steamship lines and offer a ‘cost only’ rate for any relief shipments going to Maui. I estimate we have shipped well over 1 million pounds of needed items to Maui at this stage,” he said.

Based on his experiences, he wants to let people in the trucking industry know how important they are during emergencies.

“We have the infrastructure, expertise and network to make a significant impact quickly,” Shipp said. “My message is, don’t underestimate the role you can play in times of crisis. Even if it’s just one truckload, that can make a world of difference to a community in need.”

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