Companies work to resume operations
While it was good news that Northern Wire was able to get 95% of its operations running and all its employees on the job Monday — just eight days after a tornado all but leveled the plant and destroying the office portion – other firms in the industrial park will need a little more time to get back to full production.
Matt Beilker, General Manager of Northern Wire, said that despite one wall being clear plastic as the rebuilding process got underway, workers were able to get the machinery working again quicker than initially expected.
“We got our first machine going on Wednesday, a couple more on Thursday and the rest up by Friday,” Beilker said.
The company has temporarily moved its office staff into the former Hurd Windows offices on Prospect Street. Beilker said the office portion of the plant on Taylor Street will have to be totally rebuilt.
He said most of their customers have been working with them to reduce the amount of finished product they had been storing in the plant.
The week’s lapse in production couldn’t have come at a worse time for the firm, Beilker said.
“This time of year we’re busy with very little breathing room,” he said. “April is typically our busiest month.”
Cleanup operations at the Lincoln Wood Products finishing plant on Taylor Street were nearly completed Friday, according to Sales Manager Steve Kahle.
“We are finalizing the clean up and then we’ll turn the building over to the professionals (for repair and reconstruction),” he said.
The plant was heavily damaged by the April 10 tornado. Kahle said reconstruction work is expected to begin this week. Steel has been ordered to repair portions of the roof and walls. Part of the plant will have to be replaced due to extensive damage, Kahle noted.
The company is aiming to resume production in the plant just three weeks after the tornado.
“Our goal is to start some limited production two weeks from (this) Monday,” Kahle said Friday.
Thousands of boxes of paper records were rescued from the flooded basement of the office portion of the building and transferred to a secure storage facility for drying.
Lincoln’s Timeline Vinyl Window division remains in operation as usual. Production at the other Lincoln Wood Products wood window plants is halted while the finishing plant is repaired.
Lincoln Wood employees have been involved in the clean up process.
“All our management staff are here and working as needed seven days a week,” Kahle said. “Our hourly employees are not working, but a lot of them have volunteered to help with clean up.”
While it looks intact from the street, the office portion of the Taylor Street plant is missing its back wall. Customer service staff who worked in those offices have been moved to the old office on State Street.
Kahle said the company wishes to thank the community and local businesses who have offered help and support over the past week. Even Lincoln Wood’s local competitors have offered assistance, including temporary storage space.
“We’d like to thank all the people in the community and the businesses that have supported us, and thank our competitors who have stepped forward to offer help. We’re competitors in the field, but we’re friends where we live.”
Russ Davis Wholesale has all its Merrill workers on the job, although they are helping with clean-up and demolition work. Mark Maloney, Branch Manager, said other company warehouses have picked up the work halted at the Merrill plant for the time being.
How much work the structure will need or how long it will take to complete, was not known Monday.