I could have titled this blog entry “The Friday From Hell,” but in spite of some nastiness it did not turn out all bad. Things started to go downhill as I was getting dressed for work and received a call from my office manager informing me that we were broken into around 4 a.m.
I could have titled this
blog entry “The Friday From Hell,” but in spite of some nastiness it did not
turn out all bad. Things started to go downhill as I was getting dressed for
work and received a call from my office manager informing me that we were
broken into around 4 a.m. A pair (or threesome, we haven’t quite figured that
out from the fuzzy video) broke into our yard and drove off with a tractor,
flatbed trailer, piggyback forklift ($150K) loaded with roofing. Well, not
fully loaded, but enough to ruin our day.
The real bad news is Atlanta may be on track to be the next “hot spot” behind North Texas, which has experienced combined losses adding
up to millions and perhaps tens of millions. Some of our competitors have
recently suffered similar (actually much worse) losses. It is no coincidence
that just earlier this week I attended a Web-based demo of a robust monitored
camera system that we are considering. This and all the other options spell one
thing: increased operating costs that will ultimately land at the door of the
We will ramp up our
security systems and may even install a beefed-up entry to the yard. We have
had it beefed-up twice already but the bad guys keep figuring out how to beat
our system. It is scary how good these guys were this morning. They managed to
get inside and get the tractor without breaching our alarm system until the
very instant they hit the gate. Less than 10 seconds later (by our video
system) we saw the taillights of our tractor heading off to who knows where.
So instead of doing some
good things to move our business forward I will be playing on the defensive
side of the ball next week. Meetings with manufacturers who furnish high-end
gate systems followed by WebEx seminars on the latest in high-tech monitored
video security systems. Not the first choice, but if we do not defend our
business the evil bastards will simply drive away with it and then where will
But I am getting ahead of
myself. While still in the middle of dealing with the overnight theft drama I
got word around midday that one of our tractors pulling a 45-foot curtainside
trailer had rolled and a motorist was calling us from the site of the crash on
our driver’s cell phone. The lady calling told us our driver was awake and
probably OK but the tractor had to be totaled. Holy crap! Of course we have
procedures for dealing with these things and I have learned over the years that
first (and sometimes second or third) reports from a crash scene are not always
so accurate. Not real proud of my vast experience in dealing with disasters but
sometimes it comes in handy.
Turns out, at least as far
as the information we have gotten to this point tells us, that our driver was
traveling at highway speed down a two-lane road near Vidalia, Ga.,
when an oncoming car veered into his lane. Swerving to miss the oncoming driver
(probably talking on a cell phone or texting), our guy goes into the dirt and
loses (full) control on the way to a stand of pine trees. He did not roll. The tractor
is not likely totaled and the trailer appears to have only minor damage. Our
guy was released from the hospital after a few hours and received some meds and
told to rest for a few days. We had people there with him within hours of the
crash and were able to help take care of him. Really hate that he had to go
through this, and the creepy bastard who’s life our driver saved by swerving to
avoid them did not even stop to offer a hand.
Our team really handled it
well and by the end of Friday we had our guy headed back home for a good
night’s rest and a plan to follow through with the rest of the crash
investigation, repairs, insurance adjusters, etc., on Monday. It could have
turned out so much worse I do not even like to think about it.
While having one of our
folks involved in a crash or having one of our locations robbed is no good; I
know we will survive. Thank God our people are all safe. Our tractor and
trailer will likely be found, but there is no way of knowing when or in what
kind of condition. Pretty sure these guys were mainly after the roofing (less
than $10K). We have called customers and competitors to warn them that there
are some bad guys out there now well equipped to steal from them also.
The tractor and trailer
involved in the crash in South Georgia will
probably be back in service within a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Our
driver will be back in the seat of a rented tractor by Tuesday. It just so
happens that, with over twenty-five years with our company, he is our longest
serving driver. This road he ran off of is one he has driven all those years.
He has been delivering the same type of material in essentially the same type
of equipment all those years. This incident provides a good reminder that
things can change in the blink of an eye and a good reminder of just how
hazardous driving can be.
Not a good Friday. But we
will ultimately look back upon it as one where we did learn a thing or two. We
will improve our security systems and work to improve our incident recovery and
investigation techniques and technology. In any event we will move always move
forward to Monday no matter what our Fridays bring.
Damato of the Day Is... "Guess it Was Just Our Turn"
By Rick Damato
Rick Damato is the editorial director of Roofing Contractor. He has held a number of posts in the roofing industry since 1974 and has contributed to the magazine since its inception in 1981. He can be reached at 770-331-7858 or on Twitter @RoofsByRick.