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FT-Jun17 17 WHEN CARL HARRINGTON stood up to accept the Brewer’s Guild of New Zealand grand champion award in 2012, it was more than just one of his proudest moments. “The award was a pick-me-up during a tough few years negotiating the earthquakes,” he admits. “Daily life had been turned upside down.” By then, Harrington’s was regarded as a heritage Christchurch brewery and one of the spiritual origins of New Zealand craft beer. It was unthinkable that the company would close or move away, so Harrington decided that at least one good thing could rise out of the rubble. The earthquake that day gave the company a chance to bring all parts of the business together in one centralised operation. A new brewery in Wigram more than doubled capacity, and allowed the company to plan well into the future. It helped Harrington’s refocus on what mattered most. “The resilience of the local community during this time showed what Kiwis are made of,” Harrington says, “what was important to our way of life. It’s about putting in the hard yards and getting s**t done. Then sitting around with your mates, decent beer at hand, problems solved and stories told.” Harrington says his staff of 75 got home safe that dark day in 2011. At the time, the company supplied nine bottle stores and bars and restaurants that were scattered throughout Christchurch, and its Ferry Rd brewery was so full of tanks that there wasn’t room for them to fall over. “A couple of buildings we owned suffered severe damage, which we sold ‘as is/where is’ after insurance claims were settled,” he says. His smaller brewing plant in Ferrymead was severely damaged, however, and the company lost 60,000 litres due to power outages and tanks falling over in the chiller. The warehouse lost a full set of bays holding 40 pallets of stock, almost causing a calamitous tragedy. “My son Mason was very lucky to escape the collapsing of those pallets,” Harrington says. “I was told it was like watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, with him running out the warehouse with stock collapsing behind him. He was very lucky.” All staff suffered home and personal losses, and the company supported them the entire way, through being flexible and listening to their individual needs, Harrington says. “We learnt to be safe and look out for each other. We also learnt not to stack heavy pallets and things up high on racking, to tie stock back on shelves, brace tanks and anything that could fall over. We have since written a lot of this into our health and safety programme.” The company is lucky its brewery plant sustained no damage, although it had to wait two weeks to start brewing again once the water system got the green light from the council. Harrington says he had no issues with logistics and orders, as service providers were up and running quickly. Post-earthquake, the company has focused on growth without compromise and the experience has provided new technology, a bigger team and more quality brew…with the company celebrating 25 years of brewing last year. Harrington’s Brewery’s one gem of wisdom: “Be prepared and make sure your home and business or the company you work for have good procedures in place in the situation of a disaster,” Harrington says. “Text instead of calling as it is easier to get through once the lines are jammed up.” support to the business as well,” Mayell says. “Eighty per cent of our staff arrived at work on the morning immediately following the quake to check on their colleagues and friends, and help to get the factory back into full production mode as soon as possible. We are eternally grateful to them.” Management and sales staff communicated directly with the company’s clients in the hours, days and weeks after the earthquakes to ensure they were aware that Original Foods’ staff were safe, that the factory was intact and production capacity was maintained. “We were conscious of the fact that many of our clients and their families were dealing with their own issues around the impacts of the earthquakes and tried to be supportive to them,” Mayell says. “Fortunately, there were minimal impacts to our supply chain, and our suppliers were incredible in that they sourced alternative stock from other locations, or informed us of any delays. Communication was the key.” Now in a new custom-designed factory in Wigram, Original Foods has learned much over the past six years since the destructive earthquakes. “We were planning to build a new factory prior to the earthquakes, and of course our new building has been designed to earthquake standards,” Mayell says. “We also regularly revisit our safety management plans and business procedures to ensure they remain current. “What hasn’t changed is our commitment to keep delivering delicious baked goods to our clients and customers.” Original Foods’ one gem of wisdom: “We learnt the importance of insuring the business with a top-rated insurance company,” Mayell says. “Ours folded as a result of the earthquakes, which meant we were unable to claim anything!”

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