In Tuesday's early morning hours, Sonic Automotive Inc.'s Jeff Dyke drove purposefully from San Antonio to Dallas. He had resolved to fill two of his own pickups with supplies, food and clothing -- and keep driving.
"Tomorrow, I'm going to work my way in there," said Dyke, Sonic's executive vice president of operations.
"There" is Houston, the rain-ravaged city left flooded and mangled by Harvey, now a tropical storm.
"I'm from there and I know a lot of the back roads," said Dyke. He was born in Houston and lived there until 2005, when he moved to Sonic's headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.
"I've got trucks and supplies and I'll do whatever I can for the people on the ground there," Dyke said.
Sonic Automotive ranks No. 5 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 134,288 new vehicles in 2016.
Nineteen of Sonic's dealerships, which employ 1,500 to 2,000 people, stood in Harvey's path. The stores account for nearly a third of Sonic's profits, Dyke said. He admits that the loss of sales and service business at the stores, which have been closed since 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, will be "devastating." And he is unclear of the cost to repair damages and replace or repair inventory.
But that will be determined later. For now, his goal is to reach Sonic's employees, which requires finding a route into a city where many of the main roads are under water.