OLATHE, Kan. — Just about a month ago, in the middle of the night and in a scene reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz, a tornado touched down near this little Midwestern city and wrought havoc.
And why should you care? Because one of Canada’s most innovative suppliers in this industry does most of its manufacturing down here, and their plant got blown apart by the twister.
However, just like in the movie, the story has a happy ending, and the folks at Rigmaster Power Corp. — headquartered in Toronto but suppliers of APU gear around the continent — are back at home after banding together with their Midwestern American counterparts to rebuild the facility.
When todaystrucking.com contacted RigMaster’s marketing and communications manager Amy Egerter to learn more about the tornado’s ill effects and the subsequent rebuild, she was quick to report that the event built more than a new factory, it built character.
Said Egerter: “Did anyone get injured or die? No. Did anyone lose their home, job or pet? No. Was anyone trapped or stranded? No.
“Did the building get smashed? Yes. Did men from separate worlds join together working long hard hours to beat the odds and in the end find friendship with each other that broke down all boundaries? Yes.”
What happened was, in the early morning hours of May 2, a small tornado — so small some local residents didn’t even know it hit — did serious damage to the Rigmaster plant, where the company produces all of its products. Egerter says the plant employs about 25 locals. Olathe, incidentally, was named in a recent poll as the 13th best America city to live in.
Ironically, the brass from Canada had just been visiting and had only returned north the previous day. The morning after the tornado, local authorities back in Kansas took immediate action to assess the damage and restore the facility, enabling RigMaster staff to get into the building as quickly as possible. Then the team from Toronto headed down to help in the recovery process.
Production began less than two weeks after the devastation, with parts reopening a few days later. Gary Lisson, RigMaster’s General Manager, is pleased with the outcome.
“Our people have been remarkable,” he said. “The progress they made was far above my expectations; but everyone pitched in, determined to get back to normal as swiftly as possible. To get us back this quickly has been the result of the determination of each individual employee! We are very proud of them.”
Lisson did point out the silver lining: “The damage was extensive and we lost a lot, but I now see this as an opportunity which has made us stronger. During the restoration we revamped the facility and are refocusing our operations to improve efficiencies. The dedication and teamwork of our staff, the local community and our vendors to remobilize our operations along with the support of our dealers has brought out the best in us and my gratitude goes out to everyone.”
Both production and parts are now operating at full capacity with additional resources being put in place in both operations to meet current demands.
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