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New M/K warehouse reflects 'testament to fortitude'

Keywords: Tags  Marmon/Keystone, tornado, emergency action plan, Joe Baucom, Greg Paugh, Corinna Petry

CHICAGO — Marmon/Keystone Corp. workers have moved into a rebuilt Birmingham, Ala., warehouse, a year after a tornado destroyed the former facility and forced operations to temporarily relocate.

The Jan. 23, 2012, storm arrived before working hours, so no one was injured, but the 120,000-square-foot facility "was structurally destroyed," said Joe Baucom, vice president for the southeastern region. "By about 7 a.m., the entire Birmingham branch was standing in the street looking at it." If employees had been inside, "we would have lost lives."

While 60 percent of the facility’s inventory was salvaged and moved to a temporary location nearby under the Butler, Pa.-based tube and bar distributor’s emergency action plan (EAP), the only piece of equipment the company could salvage was its cantilever stacking rack systems.

Branch manager Greg Paugh "put the EAP in action by contacting corporate, myself and everybody. This happened Monday. Within 24 hours, we had staff heading to (the) Atlanta (branch)," Baucom said. "We were able to get material out of the warehouse and made some deliveries (on Tuesday). By Wednesday, our entire staff was in place in Atlanta with phones and computers, working full time. It was astonishing. The entire warehouse and sales staff stayed in hotels five days a week and went home on the weekends."

The Birmingham warehouse relied on its Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; and Houston branches to fulfill some orders.

"Did we miss steps? Sure, but we did not skip a beat with our top 20 customers. Some customers saw no service interruption whatsoever. That is a tribute to the emergency plan and to the people who jumped in and helped out," Baucom said.

Within a few weeks, he said, the Birmingham branch was temporarily set up in a leased facility down the street.

"You would not believe the number of competitors who called to help, and mill suppliers—could they store material for us so it’s not outside and getting rusty? Mills offered office space. They were all great through the whole process," Baucom said.

"What the Birmingham employees did over the past year is a testament to fortitude," he added. "They were never down; they never complained."

The new facility houses five overhead cranes, three high-speed Amada band saws and a DoAll miter saw (, Feb. 27).

The company also built a steel-reinforced concrete storm shelter in the office, Baucom said."It was expensive, but we want to make sure our employees can be safe."

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