CHICAGO Preparing for
disaster is no easy task, and while metal distributors can take
certain measures to help mitigate losseshaving flood,
hazard, business interruption insurance, generators and remote
Internet serversits not enough to cover the cost of
business for a lengthy period.
"Business interruption insurance
is great, but in most cases it doesnt cover sales," Lisa
Goldenberg, president of Delaware Steel Co., Fort Washington,
Pa., said during an AMM-led roundtable at an
Association of Steel Distributors meeting in Detroit.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy,
the Oct. 29 storm that wreaked devastation across 20 states,
"businesses were not shut down merely for a day or two," she
said, noting that her companyalthough far from
landfallwas shut down for five-and-a-half days due to
power outages and local flooding.
The federal government reported
fourth-quarter gross domestic product fell 0.1 percent after
rising 3.1 percent in the third quarter, but didnt
provide any assessment of the storms possible
"Just look at the top 50
manufacturing companies (on the East Coast). They were
inoperable for at least a week. No checks. No payroll. You
couldnt access the bank. You didnt receive mail.
You could go to the post officethose that werent
under water," Goldenberg said. "So looking at data in the
fourth quarter for that region, (although) Im not an
economist it doesnt seem that hard to me to figure out"
there had to be some negative effect.
Although Americans tend to focus
on the positive and under-plan for emergencies, "you would have
thought that post-9/11 and post-Katrina we would have prepared
more," Goldenberg said.
"Preparedness is a giant, giant
issue. My friends who run sheet yards and precision blanking
lines were handing bundles out to guys lined up to load trucks.
They had no power, which means no slitting, no leveling, no
cranes, no forklifts, no heat. They couldnt write up an
order other than to buy a tablet. They told customers,
Ill bill you next Tuesday or give me
cash, " she said.
"So how do you prepare? It is so
much bigger than that. We looked at having our computers up in
the cloud, remote servers and better remote access so people
can work somewhere else. We gave our people gas cards so they
could get fuel. We set up carpooling and did work old school
(pre-wired)," she said.
The bottom line: whether
its for bad weather, terrorism or a banking crisis, "we
need to invest in infrastructure and security. We are pretty
vulnerable. I dont know of anyone who keeps enough money
under the mattress to run their business," she said.