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
facilitys inventory was salvaged and moved to a temporary
location nearby under the Butler, Pa.-based tube and bar
distributors 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
supplierscould they store material for us so its
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 (
amm.com, 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."