General Earthquake Update... and a Thank You!

February 2011, Warren Matthews

Summary

It is now 6 days since the earthquake hit us here in Christchurch.  We cannot believe the expressions of support and concern that we have received from customers throughout the world.  It has been really heart-warming and all our staff is very grateful.

It is now 6 days since the earthquake hit us here in Christchurch.  We cannot believe the expressions of support and concern that we have received from customers throughout the world.  It has been really heart-warming and all our staff is very grateful.

Sadly David, one of our IT staff still has his wife missing in a collapsed building.  All our thoughts are with him at this moment.

Today was the start of the serious clean up.  We began the day optimistically expecting power and water to be on at the office because Kane was there last night and power, water, internet and phones were all up and running…but, alas when all our staff arrived this morning... the power was down.  Apparently there are multiple breaks in the underground lines and it will take significant time to repair...

We also had a structural engineer inspect the three buildings that we have.  The factory and the offices/warehouse were pronounced structurally sound although there has been substantial damage to the factory, primarily the floors.  Sadly, our new office/warehouse premises which we have been working on for the last four months and due to move into on the 1st April are suspect and will require further assessment from the engineers…but, there is a real risk that it may have to be demolished.  The ground actually parted under this building and moved south by about 400mm.  The engineer said that he has never seen anything like it in his life.

It was critical that we were able to resume shipping today and begin communicating with our customers.  We were able to borrow a generator which could run our shrink wrapping machine in the despatch area and charge the batteries on the electric forklift…but, the power was insufficient to run the servers.

Fortunately we have an IT manager who has lots of ingenuity, he was able to dismantle the servers from the office and set them up at another location, and feed the data to customer service staff, whom we had spread out at different points of the city, where there is power and internet. 

This was a complicated process made more so due to the FDA prior notification documentation for which we had to write some special software but that was resolved by this afternoon.

All the documentation for each order is now being printed out at a different location and being shuttled back and forth to the offices/warehouse for processing and shipping.

The bottom line is that we were able to despatch product today and have now shipped out all orders that were due to go out last Tuesday when the quake struck.  We are hoping that we will be able to ship out 2 days lots of orders each day (For example, tomorrow we would hope to process and ship orders received last Weds and Thursday…and so on).  By the end of this week we are optimistic that we will have caught up on the backlog.

Once again I apologise for the delay.  

As I mentioned earlier it has been really heartening to receive all the messages of support and pleasing to see that the number of orders that have been cancelled as a result of the delay has been minimal. It is times like this that we really need to try to maintain our sales as the recovery process is being expensive and shipping product out is the lifeblood that we need to work our way through this difficult time.

Tomorrow (1st March), Chris, our IT manager will set up our phone system, so calls can be diverted to our customer service staff scattered throughout the city.  Some of them will end up with our after hour’s service who may be of limited help. Best solution is to email us direct or use our Liveperson system.   We are getting on top of the backlog of emails, so the delay should not be long.  We really appreciate your understanding.

I will continue to give updates on this blog every couple of days.

Some more comments about the earthquake.

Some people have wondered why there has been so much devastation for such as relatively small earthquake.  It is not due to the poor construction of the buildings many of which have withstood earthquakes for the last 160 years...

The problem was that the quake was centred almost under our factory and offices, but more importantly is was very shallow…just 5kms deep.  But, even more importantly it was the ‘normal’ type of earthquake.  Most quakes go up and down or in waves.  For example the one in Sept was heard before it actually hit.  It sounded like a train coming.  But, this one had zero warning and was much more violent and was a sideways movement rather than up and down.  If you can imagine a train hitting a building at high speed and within a fraction of a second having another one hitting from the other side and another one hitting from the original direction immediately after, then it will give you an idea of what it was like.  Extremely violent!

However, we are started on the road to recovery and as I mentioned earlier our inventory is quite substantial and undamaged and I am confident that we can get back into production before we run out of stock. We will not let down any of our customers... Once again thank you so much for your support!

21 Comments

  • “Warren I am so sorry to learn of the devastation that has struck your beautiful city and the lives of your friends, neighbors and loved ones. It is encouraging to read your recent blog and hear of the gallant efforts to lead your staff in the arduous task of getting on with life, although far from normal. Kudos to you all! Dr. Charles Stanley wrote in one of his books, "The path to victory runs straight through the valley of adversity". You are all survivors of adversity and will emerge from this experience victorious. From my family and I to you and yours, we lift you all up in our prayers. Best regards, Greg Reszutek Atlanta, GA”

    Greg Reszutek - March 02 2011

  • “My thoughts and prayers for the Xtend-Life team. Your company values have always shown in your communications and customer service. Where your values are shining now is now at the time of significant adversity in how your team continues to pull together to serve your internal and external community. May God provide resources and healing for your employee families, especially David’s, and for your company.”

    Leslie - March 04 2011

  • “Dear Sir/Madam I am very sad to hear about the earthquake.  When earthquake struck christchurch,  my first thought was about xtendlife and all the staff. I even gave a phone call to your company but unfortunately, one of the staff could not hear my voice clearly. If possible, you could even move to a save place. I pray that in future there there will be no earthquakes to beautiful New Zealand.  Wonderful company, wonderful  staff  with fantastic products. R.S.Sakthi Singapore”

    R.S.Sakthi - March 26 2011

  • “Since hearing the news of the earthquake I have been glued to your website for updates. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone at Xtend Life and the Christchurch community. My heart goes out to David and I sincerely hope and pray that he has news of his wife soon. It amazes me that your company is able to function at all given the circumstances involved. You and your staff are overcoming extreme obstacles with courage and dedication. I was going to give you some time before I placed my next order, but having read your updates I have to decided to go ahead and place them now. And I will patiently wait for my shipment to arrive. Take all the time you need… you will never lose me as a customer. Please take care.. Teresa”

    Teresa - March 04 2011

  • “Hi Warren: Very glad to hear you and the firm have mostly survived the devistation. Sorry to learn of one of your employee’s – good one’s are so very hard to find and retain, here is wishing he and his family the best. Hang in there, we are all pulling for you here in the States, and trust with time all will be healed. Our very best, Bob Green Cleveland, OH”

    Bob Green - March 01 2011

  • “Hi! When I first heard the news about the earthquake in your country I hoped , that it had not happened in your city. When I then found out that it really had, I was scared. We were really afraid of loosing such a wonderfull supplier of fish oil. And we were very glad then that you all had survived and inspite of the disaster and its consequences managed to go further and work with your customers. You are really great!!! We wish you all health and strength! Thanks for everything! Vera Russia”

    Vera - March 29 2011

  • “I visited Christchurch in January and feel just heartbroken to read about the loss of lives and the devastation caused by the earthquake. My thoughts & prayers go out to you, your staff and all your friends and family in Christchurch. Kim”

    Kim Ling - March 02 2011

  • “My thoughts are with you and all your staff, especially David. Thank you for your update and hope the journey to recovery will be easier and smoother as each day goes by. I strongly believe xtend-life customers will stand by you and your team, especially in this difficult time. JIA YOU !!!!!!!!! (Chinese means "Never give up and be stronger than ever") Jessica Seto Singapore”

    Jessica Seto - March 01 2011

  • “Surely must have been a frightening event being that it was so close to where your buildings are! My thoughts and prayers are with all of you at Christchurch and hope your IT man David finds his wife safe and well. Warmest regards, Christina NJ USA”

    Christina - March 02 2011

  • “Hello Warren, I am really impressed that you guys are up and running. I placed my order even after hearing of the earth quake and despite the delays I DID NOT have any reason to cancel. You guys have proved that you are trustworthy people when it comes to your excellent customer relations and of course your very good products. It’s my sincere prayer that you will be up and running in order to continue supplying us with these nice products. My thoughts are with David whose wife is still missing but all will be fine. Good work Warren & Staff – God bless you all! Benson Ongoma Nairobi , Kenya -———————————————- ”

    Benson Ongoma Asumwa - March 01 2011

  • “Did not know there was an earthquake until I got your facebook update. Glad everyone is safe, we can always replace bricks and mortar but not lives. Prayers go out to your staff member who is waiting to hear news of his wife. The last time I ordered I did two of the total balance, I am glad that I did because I have just started my second bottle and at least there is a little breathing space between ordering and me running out. I don’t think that any right thinking person would cancell their order just because they have to wait. In view of the circumstances I am glad to wait as long as lives are intack. How do you now stand for further earthquakes? because if another one happens or if they keep on happening what will it mean for the business. Can you earthquake proof the building or move to another earthquake free area of New zealand if there is such a spot?. Blessings to you all hope things work out with the minimum of hassle. Hyacinth.”

    Hyacinth Smith - March 01 2011

  • “To your IT man David – my thoughts and prayers go out to him at this time of his travail. It is as well he has something to occupy and challenge his mind, but the wee small hours are dark indeed. To the ESE of the city (for overseas readers), there is an extinct volcano that forms the "Port Hills", a massif of basalt. This has apparently risen 400mm (16 inches). The flexation (vertical movement) was 2.2 G (2.2 times gravity – which is larger than the 1989 shake in Los Angeles for comparison. The Richter Scale does not give an adequate comparison of the "point-force" experienced. You may have to move somewhere safe Warren – like Blenheim or Wellington! Though Mosgiel may be less challenging.”

    murray - March 02 2011

  • “ Hi! Bought my first Xtend-life product a month ago. Read on the label that Xtend-life was setteld in Christchurch. Then i heard about the Quake in NZ, my first thought was… OMG Xtend-life is settled there. People from The Netherlands(Europe) Sincerely live with you guys. I really admire the willpower of you people to get the bussiness running again, after such devastation. Thumbs up! Wish you all the luck of the world!! Ciao, Richard ”

    Richard - March 05 2011

  • “Our thoughts are with David and his family. Your updates have put us there with you all and we really appreciate them. We wish you the very best as you rebuild. ”

    Amie - March 01 2011

  • “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw the news in the internet, I had left my computer on overnight and in the morning when I walked by it and saw the news about the earthquake in New Zealand. I swear that I thought I was reading old news from last year. I was like "not again"? I just couldn’t believe it. My heart goes out to everyone! Warren, I wish you and your staff the best and my thoughts are with you! Allan”

    Allan - March 01 2011

  • “I am extremely impressed by your ingenuity and dedication! I am a new customer and I love your products. As promised, no aftertaste with the fish oil. You and everyone affected by the earthquake have been in my thoughts and prayers. Best wishes for the future to all of you. Blessings, Kalani”

    Kalani - March 08 2011

  • “I saw the good news from your other blog, but I fear that since nothing more has been said about David’s wife, that the worst has come to pass. Along with many others, I am sure, I offer prayers for him and for the Xtend-Life family in your sorrow. Harry (Buffalo, NY)”

    Harry Grace - March 11 2011

  • “Hi Warren and Team: As with most people who commented on you blog, when i first heard about the Quake one of the first things that came to mind was the Extend life team. Glad you are all ok and thoughts and best wishes to David. Reading that people are cancelling orders is a bit of a concern. So to counteract this i have ordered some products that i have been thinking about for a while and encourage others do do the same. You have a great product and by the sounds an excellent team. My Family and i wish you and your team all the best .”

    Rick WA - March 01 2011

  • “Warren and all X-Tend Life employees I was very happy to find your blog today and the news that all of you are well. My thoughts are with you all and my best wishes for David that his wife is found. As far as orders are concerned, I think you have your hands full right now and I’m willing to wait as long as it takes. I don’t understand why anyone would cancel their order, that’s just plain silly and in my opinion they won’t find a better product or equal customer service anywhere. May you all have nothing but good along your long road to recovery. Betty Staton Ontario, Canada PS: Thank you Warren for posting the link for those of us that wish to make a donation ”

    Betty Staton - March 01 2011

  • “You have all been in my thoughts and I pray for you all and can’t believe that you are up and running almost normally again. I was so susrprised to receive my order with no break at all yet I would have waited, as we all would, for such fantastic products. I pray that there are no more earthquakes and that you can now rebuild and get on with your lives. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has suffered and to David, as we are assuming that his wife died in the quake! Love to you all. Lynn Clough, UK”

    Lynn Clough - March 24 2011

  • “Thank you all so much for your kind messages… An Update: Firstly, I am sad to say that there has been no positive news from David.  After this time the likelihood of a happy outome is remote.  Our hearts go out to him. We still do not have power, water, internet or phones at the office.  However, thanks to the generator that we have borrowed we are still able to pack orders for shipping and another load went out today.  There is power and water at the factory which is within walking distance of our admin/warehouse facilities so our distribution staff can still go there and use the cafeteria which was undamaged by the quake although the rest of the factory is severely damaged. We still have staff scattered throughout the city doing their best to communicate with customers and catching up on the backlog.  New orders are being processed but instead of shipping out the same day or the next as is usually the case there is likely to be a day or two delay until we have caught up which should be by the end of the week as we will continue to work into the weekend. Thanks for the post above Murray…that clearly explains why the damage was so severe with what was a relatively mild quake on the Richter scale.  Appreciate your offer to relocate to Blenheim where you are…but, Christchurch is our home and we will be part of the rebuilding process.  We now have plans in place that will ensure that none of our customers will lose continuity of the supply of our products. As Jessica put it in her post above…‘we will emerge from this stronger’…she is right.  We don’t know the meaning of giving up…never have and never will.  :) I should make a comment here about the efforts of the international rescue and recovery teams.  There are multiple teams from all around the world here in Christchurch.  Some of them such as the Americans flew out in their own aircraft with a mountain of equipment and supplies.  The way these teams have worked together with the NZ teams is truly gratifying to see and their efforts have been truly appreciate by everyone in NZ. Although some residents have choosen to leave Christchurch because they are afraid of the future, the overwhelming majority are staying put and helping in the rebuilding processs.  It is a little like Christchurch has become an international family with everyone helping out where they can. It is times like this that the good side of the human spirit really shines through… More updates as they come to hand.”

    Warren Matthews - March 03 2011

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