Global Fastener News

1994 FIN – L.A. Fastener Companies Shaken But Recovering From Earthquake

June 04
00:00 2009

1994 FIN – L.A. Fastener Companies Shaken But Recovering From Earthquake

January 28, 1994 FIN – The 6.6 earthquake that shook the San Fernando and San Clarita Valleys of Southern California in the pre-dawn hours of Monday, January 17, took its tool in the fastener industry, but distributors in the region reported that in most cases rumors were worse than the actual damage as most firms were back in service within days. The earthquake shut down stainless steel and brass master distributor, West-Spec Corp. of Chatsworth. Speaking one week after the quake, general manager Dave Kujanek told Fastener Industry News that salespeople were back giving quotes by Friday and West-Spec would begin shipping by Thursday, January 27.
Kukanek told FIN that when he arrived at the facilities it looked like “it had been turned upside down.” But as the West-Spec staff began sifting through the rubble and engineers inspected the building damages were not as serious as first feared.
“The structure is fine. Seventy percent of our inventory is in ASRS (automatic stock retrieval system) and it didn’t move. It was well contained. As we started sorting we found not even 10% of the inventory was on the floor,” Kujanek reported.
West-Spec had to replace garage doors and glass; replace drywall destroyed when the sprinkler system was triggered by the quake; and patch the roof. Bob Lambert of Standard Aerospace had just his family in, doing what office work could be done until structural repairs could be made. “We are trying to answer our phones and we are working together with customers to get things through. We lost a lot of shelves. We won’t know how much was destroyed until we can get in to see it.”
Structural engineers were examining the building in hopes that by installing support pillars, employees could come back to work in the building which was constructed according to 1980 codes. Gary Young, vice president of Alotec Products in Chatsworth, reported a loss of shelving in the 20,000 square foot warehouse. Allan Schain of Samson Industries said one power rack came down spilling 75 kegs of inventory. Samson was spared some damage because of reinforced shelving and pallets. Lee Harper, president of WCL Co. in the City of Industry said customers had more problems than he did and he was concentrating on solving their problems. Those with severe damage were desperately trying to salvage what they could as fast as they could. “We’re terribly busy,” Skip English of Jacon Fasteners & Electronics of Chatsworth, responded. Jacon’s inventory is down on the floor, he told FIN. Bob Becker of West Valley Industries was on a forklift trying to salvage inventory after the whole warehouse just caved in. “It’s a sad story,” according to the receptionist. It was the third major earthquake for Dale Roos of Dal/Lyn International and lessons from his first, the 1971 Sylmar quake, paid off. Ever since then he has insisted on keeping inventory in paper or poly bags in boxes.
“Over the years I’ve been ridiculed for it but I kept saying there would be a day of reckoning.”
Nonetheless, it was not enough, Roos acknowledged. Located just a mile from the collapsed apartment building where 16 people died, Dal/Lyn suffered “bent and mangled shelving with boxes tumbled everywhere.” There was some water damage to the office.
Roos said there was no structural damage in the three multi-tenant industrial buildings totaling 14,400 square feet where Dal/Lyn is headquartered.
One week after the fact he reported 95% capacity and he expected to reach 100% by the end of the second week. Roos credited “good friends in the industry” who supplied shelving and other necessities. Vicki Lester, executive director of the Los Angeles Fastener Association, said members volunteered to help their colleagues and competitors with labor and vehicles on Saturday, but no companies called for assistance.
“The worst was over by then and much of what needed to be done no stranger could help you with” Lester said. Five days after the quake, Hal Weinstein, vice president of Westco Aircraft was “98% back.”
Half of Westco’s 90 employees reported to work on Tuesday morning, just a day after the initial shaking and the first working day of the week because of the Martin Luther King Holiday on Monday. “Some brought their families to help,” Weinstein said.
They face a warehouse with “boxes tumbled everywhere, shelving bent and mangled and water damage.” Weinstein plan “better bracing and a stocking plan placing heavy products on low shelves” to reduce losses in case of any future disaster. The distributors reached by FIN all said the damaged freeways posed no problem. “The bulk of our business is shipping rather than delivery,” Roos said.
Schain said “snow and ice in Louisville, Kentucky caused more disruption for UPS than the earthquake.”
Alotec’s Young said UPS and Federal Express deliveries were virtually uninterrupted. Young was more concerned about employees’ commutes in the coming months. Alotec will stagger work schedules to ease traffic problems. Insurance won’t provide answers for many. Roos explained that even those who have expensive earthquake insurance have a 10% deductible. “With a million dollar policy, that means you have to have $100,000 absolute damage before the insurance kicks in,” Roos observed. ©1994/2009 Fastener Industry News.

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