February 16, 2024
The massive flood damage in Houston will take years and billions of dollars to repair. Even with plenty of warning, there was no way to evacuate millions of people and protect homes and businesses from that much rain. Our local paper managed to contact some former residents who now live in southeastern Texas and asked them to compare the situation to the seasonal flooding “back home.” Rivers have predictable patterns of behavior and communities along them have “the drill” down. High water marks remain on landmarks from previous floods as a reminder of why so much effort goes into an “event” everyone hopes will never occur. As an apprentice at The Falk Corporation’s Menomonee Valley plant in the early 1970s, I saw evidence of the “big flood” that swept through the facility a few years before. Veteran employees would talk about working around the clock cleaning and rebuilding hundreds of machine tools while scrambling to keep customer orders moving. It was a defining moment for the workforce and outstanding performances by some young employees was instrumental in changing their career paths. Does your company have a “critical moment” in its history that employees still talk about? Have written accounts been preserved for future recruits to appreciate? And more importantly, do you have a disaster plan? Have measures been taken to preserve important intellectual property? Is there a plan to support customers during any outage? Along with succession planning, emergency preparedness can mean the difference between having that “critical moment” be an interesting part of company history instead of a terminal event. Manufacturing is a difficult way to make a living, but for most of us few other activities are as satisfying. A few hours spent brainstorming possible disasters and how to handle them would be time very well spent.