The fire that ripped through the wooden roof of Advanced Coating Technology in Mechanicsburg could have left the small business itself amid the charred remains.
From its founding in 1976, ACT steadily built a successful business applying engineered coatings for a variety of clients. But the small business (the company employs 17 people) wasn’t equipped to handle a major disruption like the March 2006 fire that destroyed 20,000 square feet, or two-thirds of the building space.
Several important machines were lost as the roof caved in and damaged machines and destroyed offices. All production equipment in that area was eventually scrapped.
But President Joseph A. Turri Jr. and ACT staff responded by working around the clock with suppliers, customers, contractors and the insurance company to quickly rebuild the company. Most employees stuck around through the transition phase.
In five weeks, the company was back in limited production in the 10,000 square feet not affected by the fire. Once the initial rush of responsibilities were met, the rebuild actually made ACT a much stronger company, Turri said.
A new steel roof is much safer and stronger, while the new equipment is designed with energy efficiency and the typical ACT part size in mind. “We were able to change the plant layout to streamline the movement of product,” Turri said. “Rebuilding was an opportunity to improve our entire process.”
Down and up
Despite the opportunities for internal improvements, the fire had a significant impact on the bottom line. The total fire-related loss came in at $1.8 million. Revenue dropped 16 percent in the following year, Turri said.