One year ago today, a fire destroyed our largest mail presort services facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. The first warning sign – smoke detectors that went off at 7:45 p.m. as a fire broke out at an adjoining business and quickly spread. By 4:30 a.m., it was a four-alarm blaze. By 9:00 a.m., our entire facility, where we processed mail for hundreds of customers, was completely decimated.
I learned about the devastating news during an early morning phone call. It was shocking to take in at first – the fire was the worst U.S. disaster our company had experienced during my five years at Pitney Bowes.
However, there was a huge silver lining: all of our employees were safe and there were no injuries.
Also, our colleagues in Grand Prairie immediately started to implement a business continuity
plan that had been developed and tested months earlier. As a result, they knew exactly what needed to be done during the disaster to safeguard employees, secure the building, protect customer data, reroute the mail, and make every customer pickup and delivery as scheduled – that day, the next week and in the months that followed.
The detailed business continuity plan made the difference between navigating the disaster’s consequences quickly and successfully, or facing a lengthy and ruinously expensive recovery.
Last June marked an important milestone for Pitney Bowes. We opened a new Grand Prairie facility.
Despite four months without our main processing facility, we retained 98% of our customers.
At the ribbon-cutting event for the facility in July, I was lucky enough to experience first-hand the positive energy and camaraderie of this amazing group of Pitney Bowes colleagues. While the fire was one of the company’s toughest days, our people made it one of our finest moments.
One year later, the fire in Grand Prairie is an important reminder that while you can’t control the unexpected, you can control how you plan and respond. Our Pitney Bowes colleagues who were on the front lines of the disaster are true heroes in my eyes and set an example of how best practices in business continuity
can help ensure the safety of your employees and protect your business.