PLATTSBURGH — Employees could be back to work by week’s end after a fire that destroyed a warehouse at the Schluter Systems L.P. complex Saturday night.
Edmond Martin, controller for the company’s offices at 194 Pleasant Ridge Road, said there was no visible damage to the interior of the manufacturing plant that had been connected to the warehouse.
“If power is restored tomorrow, we might start production on Friday,” Martin said Monday.
Of the roughly 20 full-time employees who work at the facility, Martin expected 11 employees to have their schedules disrupted by the repair time. He said they would be fully compensated for any lost work time.
Martin emphasized that both the manufacturing plant and the damaged warehouse are the property of SSF Productions LLC, a partnership between Schluter Systems L.P. and Selit, a German-based producer of polystyrene foam.
“Schluter Systems, as a whole, has suffered no loss whatsoever; it’s one of our affiliated companies that manufactures the Styrofoam product for us that’s suffered a loss,” Martin said.
The two companies share the Pleasant Ridge Road complex with UMS Manufacturing LLC, a subsidiary of Schluter Systems that primarily produces the company’s KERDI-BOARD waterproofing panels.
Along with being a component of the company’s KERDI-BOARD panels, the foam produced at the SSF Productions LLC facility is used as cushioning material for laminate flooring, a synthetic flooring product.
The company was working on installing new power-line connections to the production facility. Schluter Systems L.P. General Counsel C.J. Madonna said that once power is restored, the next step would be testing.
“There will probably be a day of testing the machines, making sure everything is OK, and then we’ll probably be right back at starting production,” Madonna said.
Insurance inspectors were expected to arrive at the facility today, Martin said, to inspect any damage and give permission to begin clearing the warehouse debris.
He said the company was already searching the location for any loose materials that could become airborne.
With the loss of the on-site warehouse, Madonna said, any products manufactured at the site after production restarts will be stored at an alternate 80,000-square-foot-facility in Plattsburgh.
The company had begun renting a portion of the alternate facility last year to serve as off-site storage, Martin said, and the three companies have been increasing their use of the space since then.
Both Martin and Madonna shared their appreciation for the efforts of the responding fire departments in containing any damage to the warehouse.
“Had the manufacturing building gone up, there would be 20 some-odd guys out of work for quite a long time,” Martin said. “It would be a whole rebuilding process. We’d be in a whole different situation than we are right now.”
In particular, Martin said, the fire could have damaged one of only two machines in the world capable of producing the company’s KERDI-BOARD panels.
Martin said Schluter Systems has worked to maintain a strong relationship with the South Plattsburgh Fire Department. He said the department had been invited to tour the complex as it grew to become familiar with its layout.
As of Monday afternoon, Martin and Madonna said, the cause of the fire was still under investigation but had not been ruled suspicious.
As far as preparing for a similar emergency in the future, Martin said emergency preparations had previously focused on how to handle situations at the company’s manufacturing suppliers.
The company’s owners were expected to arrive from Germany today for a series of meetings, and one topic of discussion, Martin said, is looking at what the company can learn from the warehouse fire.