The blow we never expected
There is no playbook for what to do when your warehouse is hit by a tornado, or when the world is impacted by a pandemic. At Optoro, we faced both at once. On Tuesday, March 3rd, at 1:08 AM, a tornado struck Optoro’s flagship warehouse in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Thankfully, there were no individuals in the building at the time and no one was injured. Unfortunately, the building’s infrastructure and most of the inventory housed inside were destroyed.
“I saw a couple of people that had a drone, and so I stopped and I asked them as a favor if they could fly the drone on top of our warehouse,” said Ricardo Menendez, Optoro’s VP of Operations. “The guy said, ‘I think your warehouse is on fire.’”
As soon as it was safe to survey the damage, our CEO, Tobin Moore, and President, Adam Vitarello, flew down to Tennessee to support the team on the ground. “I’ll always remember this: when Adam and I and Ricardo were driving to the warehouse, the one thing still standing amidst all this destruction everywhere was that wall with our logo on it. That was really an incredible moment that felt symbolic. We would bounce back from this,” said Tobin.
It was clear that the building was beyond repair. But the loss of our facility did not mean business could simply stop. We still had orders to process and clients with customers we were accountable to. Our team realized the only path forward was to find a new facility, and fast.
We established a task force of specialists from across the company with the laser focus of establishing a new facility in the Nashville area. Four days after the tornado hit, Optoro signed a lease on a new warehouse in Lebanon, Tennessee. Two days after that, our cloud-based technology enabled us to be back up and running to minimize the impact on our customers and clients.
10 days later
As we worked to build our new facility we were dealt another blow that impacted not just Optoro, but the entire world. Just 10 days after the tornado, COVID-19 stay at home orders were issued throughout the United States and the world spun into the whirlwind of a global pandemic. Instead of turning inward, our team reached out and supported the community through donations to those impacted by the pandemic.
We are immensely proud of the heart and resilience our team at Optoro showed in the face of these challenges. We could never have imagined facing two crises at once, but despite the circumstances, our teams rose to the occasion.
A big thank you to our operations team on the ground in Tennessee that worked day and night to quickly recover from the devastation from both of these crises. They are a true inspiration, and together, our company has come out even stronger!
We are now more productive in the new warehouse than before we were hit by a tornado. We’re looking forward to what could be a record returns season in early 2021. The speed, resilience, and efficiency of our team has persisted throughout the winding course of this year, and we will continue to support our customers in the new year.