Last week, Transcend Coffee experienced a first. We had our first fire. While fires in coffee Roastery's are quite common, we had never experienced one in over eleven years.
I received a phone call from Josh Hockin, our green buyer, at around 11 am on Tuesday morning, where he informed me that he had just pulled the fire alarm at the Ritchie Market, and evacuated the building. My first concern was whether the sprinkler system had activated, which thankfully it had not (that would have been a crazy mess). Josh and Kelci's quick actions kept the fire contained to the ventilation system, while significantly damaged, is something that is quite easily repaired. Our new roaster was undamaged and most of the Roastery was spared, apart from being covered in ash and extinguisher dust.
We had a visit from some forensic engineers the following day, who determined that the fire likely started in our cyclone which collects chaff from the roasted coffee. While we are well insured, and have business interruption insurance and could have survived despite being down, we were mostly concerned with not interrupting the coffee supply to our retail and wholesale customers. When we first moved into the Ritchie Market, we had planned to have our old roaster installed, as a backup roaster for a situation just like this one, although that plan had not yet been put into action. Knowing that the Ritchie Market repairs would take weeks, I approached a friend with the prospect of hooking up our vintage UG22 in our warehouse space (which thankfully used to house another coffee Roastery).
Ryan McGimpsey almost immediately assessed the gravity of our situation and single handedly took the reigns on getting our operation back up and running. Amazingly, he had our vintage roaster up and running by Friday afternoon! In just a day and a half, he sourced the required materials and installed all of the required ventilation to allow us to commence our roasting operations by the weekend. Essentially it is like the fire never happened.
Our roasting team was amazing in the process as well, adjusting to a new location, moving equipment, servicing the old UG22, and spending their Sunday getting caught up on missed roasts from the previous week.
One of the most amazing things about being part of the Transcend Coffee family is seeing our extended community engage at so many different levels. From partner producers at origin to customers who advocate on our behalf, we are so thankful for everyone who supports our little coffee company.
I guess you can say that we have finally come of age as a roasting company, having experienced our first fire. What made this event so much more positive is the support that we experienced starting with our landlord, our insurance company Peace Hills Insurance, our amazing staff and customers and most importantly the laser focus of one man, Ryan McGimpsey, who put his life on hold for a couple of days, to ensure that we could continue to do what we do.
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