Kelli Teichman remembers the Blue Sea Systems warehouse, where she’d worked for 17 years, looked like “a bomb went off” after a fire broke out at the Bellingham, Wash., facility on Nov. 10. A division of Brunswick Corp’s Power Products, Blue Sea Systems engineers and manufactures marine electrical components.
“The windows of our workstations were literally blown out,” said Teichman in a statement. “We were all in shock and worried about the future of the company and our careers, but the mood was of support and a resolve to dig-in and rebuild.”
There were no injuries after the fire, but the facility was destroyed along with $3 million of inventory.
Now, almost eight months later, all the employees are back to work in a new facility and the business is fully operational.
“The industry and community support were overwhelming,” said Dave Johnson, senior vice president of Blue Sea Systems. “We received emails and phone calls from customers, suppliers, and even competitors asking if they could help. Even though the fire was a tragic event, it helped us all remember how grateful we are to work in such a supportive industry.”
“In less than a year, Blue Sea Systems went from a total loss to almost fully recovered, which is incredible,” said Craig Smith, Blue Sea Systems vice president of operations. “We are a family, and the first thought after the fire was making sure everyone was OK.”
The company decided to continue paying employees’ salaries while the rebuild was under way, said Smith.
“The next priority was to find a new facility and get back up and running as quick as possible,” said Smith. “We know that the fire was disruptive for several customers but were able to recover to a fully operational state in less than one year, which demonstrates the positive spirit and dedication of everyone in our organization.”
Shortly after the fire, Blue Sea Systems was flooded with calls from local businesses trying to help, according to the company.
Within a week of the fire, the company set up a temporary office location and started receiving and shipping because companies including Allsop and Lithtex Printing donated space at their facilities.
“Every single employee, their families, the community and people we had never met before offered to help us rebuild,” said Teichman, a 17-year employee. “It was overwhelming at times, but together, we put the pieces back together and did whatever we needed to do to get back to production.”