You Can’t Keep a Good Factory Down Redux

It was exactly two years ago today that a tornado ripped through Tacony Corporation’s St. James manufacturing plant. I thought it would be appropriate to repeat a MYOB post on the plant’s rapid recovery on this anniversary date.  Here it is:

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Missouri weather can be very unpredictable.  If you don’t believe it, ask Major League Baseball.  On Friday afternoon, September 22, at about 3:20 in the afternoon, a tornado touched down in St. James, MO.  Tacony Manufacturing was right in its path.  It was one month, to the day, since the one millionth vacuum cleaner had rolled of the production line.  (See "That’s a Lot of Vacuum Cleaners" for more on the St. James plant.)

Thankfully, the plant works on a schedule of four ten hour days, Monday through Thursday so theSt_james_6
number of people working that afternoon was small and no one was injured.  The building wasn’t so fortunate.  When the storm had passed, those who were working that day found a 30′ X 70′ hole in the roof.  Several doors had been blown out.  Water was pouring in from the still-falling rain and from the plumbing for the sprinkler system, which ruptured when the roof blew off.  There was a 35′ X 16′ hole in one wall.

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The sprinklers were quickly turned off and most of the raw materials and material handling equipment was saved.  Employees living nearby soon arrived to help, dodging tree limbs, power lines and other assorted debris.  By early evening, a recovery plan was in place and materials had been ordered.

To make a long story short, in spite of the severe damage, the factory was up and running Tuesday morning, the 26th.  We missed one day of production. 

Tacony Manufacturing works on a lean production system, meaning that we don’t keep a lot of finished product on hand.  Merchandise is produced as it’s needed to supply our customers.  Had we been shut down for any length of time, it would have been a big problem for a lot of dealers.  The quick work of Jim Fleming, our plant manager, and all of our associates in St. James not only ensured that our business would continue with little interruption, it also ensured that our dealers’ business would not be disrupted.

We were very fortunate, especially that no one was hurt.  It just shows that you can be celebrating a milestone one day and repairing major damage the next.  If you haven’t reviewed your own disaster plan recently, now would be a good time to do it.

Jim has prepared a more complete report of the events of that weekend and you can read it here.  Click on any of the small pictures below to see them in larger size.

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