Hail, snow, hurricanes, floods, ice storms, and earthquakes are just a few of the unpredictable natural disasters that Americans faced last year. But when these disasters strike a printing business, or other unpredictable damage, such as a fire, print shop owners need to assess their business...
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Hail, snow, hurricanes, floods, ice storms, and earthquakes are just a few of the unpredictable natural disasters that Americans faced last year. But when these disasters strike a printing business, or other unpredictable damage, such as a fire, print shop owners need to assess their business, help their customers and employees, and decide on the quickest route to opening their doors again.
"Once you've experienced one of these disasters, you have an incredible base of knowledge," says Chip Smith, president of Marshall & Bruce Printing Company, a specialist in general commercial printing and packaging and fulfillment services located in Nashville. "My advice to fellow printers is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst."
On May 21, 2011, a little after midnight, a two-alarm fire broke out at Thoroughbred Printing in Lexington, KY, causing significant damage to its printing plant. The firm's roof partially collapsed and its prepress, bindery, and customer service department were destroyed. Before the fire reached the press department, a heavy fire door dropped down stopping the flames. Firefighting work continued until 5:00 a.m. and investigators spent the next day at the scene.
"Fortunately for us we have a sister facility in Dayton, KY," says Barry Henry, Thoroughbred's co-owner and chief financial officer. "We were able to move our jobs to that facility and move all of our employees to Dayton three days a week for 12 hour shifts, where they lived in hotel rooms."
To reclaim the Lexington facility, Henry devised a three-point plan: first, get equipment back into the building. "There were two large printing equipment auctions in our area where we carefully purchased needed machinery," says Henry. Second, get the building back into workable shape. "Our existing building was larger than we needed," says Henry. "Before the fire, we were trying to rent out unused portions." Third, decide what to do with the front-office building. "The Lexington facility is unique in that it was built with an 1845 mansion in the front and then a long addition in the back for production, storage, and docks. We wanted to protect its historic nature."
Established more than 50 years ago, Thoroughbred Printing counts the University of Kentucky and Alltech as major clients. "Most important, no one was hurt," says Henry. "A lot of our work had just shipped out on Friday and we had just backed up all of our files the day before the fire. The cause of the fire was never determined."
- Work closely with your insurance agent and help them to understand your particular business
- Put together an emergency contingent plan with another local printer to help you during a disaster
- Keep emergency contact information, along with cell phone numbers and landlines, readily available
- Maintain a current list of equipment, when purchased, serial numbers, and cost for insurance and fire investigators
When Rivers Run Over
When the banks of the Cumberland River began to overflow in May 2010, management at Marshall & Bruce Printing Company began to feel uneasy. The 145-year-old printing firm sits across the street from the river that flows through Nashville. But even after 12- to 17-inches of rain fell in a 36-hour period, Chip Smith, the firm's president, felt his company was safe. The rain had ended and the river waters had not crossed the road.
But overnight, the river began to rise slowly. As the floodwaters began to peak the next afternoon, Marshall & Bruce's facility was engulfed in three feet of flood water that lasted for 36 hours. Its KBA Rapida 105 41-inch seven-color press with digital CIP4 signal transmission and fiber optics, with water up to the catwalks, was seriously damaged. The firm faced a massive clean-up and destruction of its customer's work and all of its supplies, and loss of or damage to many key pieces of equipment. For the next several months, the firm acted as a printing broker and was aided by other local printers and its local Printing Industry Association of the South.