Orlando, Fla. — Flat die maker Cloeren Inc. is back in business after the company’s headquarters and two facilities in Orange, Texas, were hit by Hurricane Harvey last August.
More than 4 feet of standing water filled Cloeren headquarters for nearly a week, and the building lost power after the catastrophic storm struck the area. The company’s two other facilities remained dry but without electricity.
“One of the facilities was offline for the better part of a week,” George Hall, chief operating officer at Cloeren, said in a May 9 interview at the company’s booth during NPE2018 in Orlando. “The second facility, it was longer. It was probably [without power] closer to two weeks.”
Hall said the unfortunate situation impacted “more than just manufacturing,” describing a displaced engineering staff sitting at desks on a plant floor where there was no network cabling.
“There were no phones set up,” added Alicia Cloeren, the company’s director.
Many of the company’s 375
employees were displaced from not just their place of work, but also their homes.
“We had to take into consideration that they needed to evacuate and also find another place to live, so some of them did not return for quite some time,” Cloeren said.
The company still has employees that are not back in their homes, she added.
It took days for the company to figure out how to deal with the situation, Hall said, adding that for the most part they were half-staffed.
“And we were inconveniently staffed,” Cloeren said. “Our CEO, who’s also my dad, was working out of a garage for five to six months.
The headquarters had to be completely gutted.
“We lost every piece of office furniture,” Cloeren said, plus some office equipment like copiers, a few computers and “a lot of paper,” Hall quipped.
But the company ultimately decided to take advantage of the situation and completely redesign the building into what is now a state-of-the-art headquarters. An engineer worked on the floor plans, while Cloeren and her father, Peter, worked on the design, she said.
“We were dealt a pretty bad situation, and I think what we tried to do was make the most of it,” Hall said.
Cloeren acknowledged further efforts to avert flooding at the headquarters would be “a big investment,” but leadership is considering ways to prevent it in the future.
“Most importantly, our entire IT infrastructure has changed so that a Mother Nature event will not stop us from doing our jobs, and that’s a big improvement,” Hall said. employees were displaced from not just their place of work, but also their homes.