Be prepared: How Puerto Rico's Pan Pepin gets ready for hurricanes

by Laurie Gorton
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Puerto Rico stands smack dab in the middle of hurricane territory, making emergency planning a way of life for Pan Pepín, Bayamón, PR.

“Because the island is prone to hurricanes, our customers need to know we can supply them as soon as the storm passes,” said Mario Somoza, the bakery’s president and CEO.

Pan Pepín equipped itself with on-site power generators. Although it normally relies on municipal water, it also has an independent water well, used only for emergencies. “We are self-contained,” Mr. Somoza said. “If we have the people here to man the lines and if there’s no damage to the facility, then we can start running the next day.”

Managers know that their employees must be concerned first with their families and personal situations when coping with such devastating storms. When reorganizing the bakery’s processing lines, engineers kept options flexible. Because not all staff members will be able to report for work that first day, the bakery can run the same items on either side of the street.

“Getting up and running after a hurricane goes beyond simply operating a business,” Mr. Somoza explained. “We produce bread. It’s a staple of the diet. To have such foods ready and available makes the whole post-storm situation easier.

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