In 2014 the Rustic Crust was on track for record sales of its all-natural pizza crust. Investors were excited about soon-to-launch products that were gluten-free, thin crusts, and basil pesto. Founder and CEO Brad Sterl was thrilled. Then-disaster! Fire burned the rural New Hampshire factory to the ground on March 6.
According to an article in USA Today, Sterl literally jumped into action. Today, despite a $4 million loss in revenue during down time, customers and brokers are intact, retailers ready to stock their shelves, a large contract signed with Safeway to put his product in 1400 stores, employees working seven days a week to make up for the loss, the makeshift factory bustling, and a new facility ready to open in late October or early November.
While it’s very instructive to read the article to get an impressive lesson in speedy recovery, I contend that had Sterl not been working on resiliency skills all along, Rustic Crust would still be digging out of the ashes. In fact, Sterl demonstrates what I think of as “presilience™”—pre-emptive resilience.
He had these things in place before disaster happened:
A solid relationship with customers and brokers—nurtured over time.
Knowledge of how to use social media to communicate with the product’s biggest fans so he could quickly assure them of a restored supply.
Investors who believed he was a man of his word so that when he asked for funding to continue to pay his employees, they agreed.
Loyal employees who were ready to jump in and do whatever it took to get up and running.
Strong banking relationships that quickly netted a secured loan so that construction could begin.
Active community involvement that resulted in securing permits on a faster basis to meet aggressive building timelines.
There’s a thread that runs through all this presilience™: relationships, relationships, and relationships!
Sterl has been building solid relationships with everyone from his digital community to his investors, from his employees to his community.
I’ve never met Sterl but I can bet my first-born child that he did not create good relationships with an eye toward needing something in the future.
Relationships solidify when someone keeps his word, treats everyone as though they matter, practices transparency and honesty in communication, and backs words with actions. It’s one thing to say, “I care about you” to employees but it’s something else to seek funding so no one is laid off.
So, with my newly-minted word of presilience™, we’d all be wise to look in the mirror and ask:
How am I nurturing relationships with my customers and clients?
What would my colleagues, peers, and other employees say about our relationship?
How involved am I in giving back to my community of choice?
Don’t wait for a disaster to strike.