Commentary: Don't Delay in Planning for Emergencies - Modern Distribution Management

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Commentary: Don’t Delay in Planning for Emergencies


Is your company prepared? Many business leaders have raised their level of planning in the wake of last year’s hurricane devastation on the Gulf Coast (See article on p. 1). Start asking questions and create some answers if you haven’t visited this crucial part of your business plan recently. Many insurers are changing coverage levels, sometimes dramatically based on location, in the wake of regional losses.

Do you have an updated and communicated plan for less-than-disaster emergencies? Do managers know how to respond to medical emergencies? Have you worked scenarios with key suppliers and vendors, such as technology providers, to help manage a crisis? Have you recently picked apart details of insurance coverage with your agent to identify specifics of business interruption coverage; flood, windstorm, hail and tornado limits; and consignment and off-site inventory?

Lee Eagan, president and CEO of Oliver H. Van Horn Co., an industrial distributor in New Orleans, gave a riveting speech at the recent annual meeting of the Industrial Supply Association (full link to the speech at He shared his direct experience with the continued hardships people face there and the enormous challenges rebuilding a business post-Katrina.

His most powerful message was a positive one on leadership. He called on the leaders in that room to create a disaster plan. He asked for political leadership to provide needed infrastructure protection and assistance to rebuild.

His most important piece of advice regarding life after Katrina was this: “You made this business, you will save this business, but you need a plan. Create it now.”

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