Better Way workers assess fire damage

Better Way workers assess fire damage (Photo by Mark Shephard)

While no manufacturer wants a fire at a plant, Better Way Products (BWP of Indiana Inc.) of New Paris, Ind., is in good shape to spring back from the blaze that destroyed Plant 2 early Thursday (Oct. 23). Authorities remained on site investigating the cause of the fire.

“To be sure, we have some adversity in front of us,” said Clint Decker, general manager of the company, which produces fiberglass parts and components to the RV industry as well as the marine, commercial and transit vehicle industries.

Still, despite the fire, “Our RV customers aren’t going to see any glitch at all,” Decker told RVBusiness.com. “Our marine customers are going to come through unscathed, we believe.”

Plant 2 was vacant at the time of the fire. Decker said workers in Plant 1 noticed the flames and called the fire department.

“The fire crews did an outstanding job of containing the fire. There were molds and parts around the perimeter of that building and none of those were damaged,” he said.

The 100 employees of Plant 2 have been reassigned among Better Way’s other facilities, including two manufacturing sites in New Paris and three in Bremen. Better Way also has a warehouse in New Paris and a pattern and mold shop in Syracuse.

“We went to three shifts,” Decker said. “With the team we have, which is an amazing team, we have multiple facilities and capable team members. We can spread this work around. We also have a great deal of employees that are cross-trained in all aspects of our business.”

As soon as Better Way can clean up the site, they plan to rebuild, Decker said, noting that there are certain procedures to follow in the case of a fiberglass fire.

He added,  “It looks like the gelcoat stayed pretty intact in the drums and the resin tank stayed within its containment. But there are regular things that we need to do to make sure EPA and IDEM are satisfied, so we will work through those issues, but we do plan on rebuilding a facility on this plot of land in short order, I would anticipate ideally three, four months, we’ll be operating in a new facility.”