Early in the morning May 9, Industrial Distribution Group’s Belmont, NC, distribution center was hit by a tornado. The distributor suffered an estimated $5 million to $7 million in damages, CEO Charles Lingenfelter told MDM.
The office building, a separate facility, was not hit, but the distribution center was severely damaged. Inventory was damaged by water and flying debris. Fortunately, nobody was hurt because the tornado hit in the middle of the night.
Lingenfelter estimates it will take a minimum of four to six months to repair the facility in part due to lead times on required materials.
Until then, the distributor is utilizing a temporary distribution facility about four miles away that local officials helped the distributor find. IDG has had to move 32,000 items to the new facility, where they were inspected to determine whether they were in new and restockable”condition. Some of the stock has already been replaced.
Many IDG associates worked the entire weekend after the tornado, and they continue to work 12-hour days to restore the distribution center to normal operations.
“I could not be more proud of how our team has responded and how their families supported us,”Lingenfelter says. “Our objective since the tornado struck was to make this significant event transparent to our customers.”
The distributor had a Disaster Recovery Plan in place. IDG had three generators on site that ran on natural gas to keep its computers and phone system powered and cooled to ensure business continuity. Lingenfelter says the generators “were an investment that was well worth it.”
The morning of the tornado, telephones were forwarded to the company’s Ensco Supply, Charlotte, NC, office, where Belmont customer service associates were instructed to report to work. After total power was restored later in the morning, the customer service associates moved back to the Belmont office. Most orders from Southeastern customers were processed through the York, PA, Nashville, TN, and Elkhart, IN, distribution centers. IDG’s temporary distribution center is currently at 50 percent of capacity and will be at 100 percent capacity by May 27.
“I’m very proud of what we achieved,”Lingenfelter says. “No phone call was missed.”He says the distributor has received strong support from its suppliers and the local community. “The most important thing that got us through this was support from our dedicated associates, our suppliers, our community leadership and the operational infrastructure within the community.”
IDG is an industrial MROP distributor and integrator supplying cutting tools, hand and power tools, abrasives, material handling equipment, coolants, lubricants, and safety products.
In Case of Emergency: Key Points in Creating a Business Continuity Plan
Not all disasters are alike, and some may be more difficult to bounce back from. Still, it is important to consider what your business would do in the case of a catastrophic event, such as a tornado or flooding. Consider these tips from the June 10, 2006, MDM Archives.
1. To protect and access vital records, label them, back up computer systems, make copies of records, store tapes and disks in insulated containers, store data off-site where it will not be damaged by an event hitting your facility, and arrange for back-up power.
2. Incorporate key suppliers into your disaster plan to ensure business continuity. Discuss scenarios to establish how your top three suppliers can support any capabilities you might lose in an emergency.
3. Take down the email addresses, phone numbers (including spouses’or other family members’), and other contact information for all employees and suppliers. Create a reference manual for recovery. In addition to keeping that information on- and off-site, put this information in your cell phone or other mobile device.
4. Save a sample of each type of form you use on a daily basis, including invoices and purchase orders. Store out of the office.
5. Create a disaster recovery coordinator role. You or someone you designate has to think through the scenarios of worst case and create plans for who does what and when. The plans may not be perfect, but it is always easier to adjust than to start thinking through the right decisions under pressure.