When Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East coast last year, Tribeca Oven took a direct hit. Three feet of water flooded its artisan bakery destroying equipment and creating a plain ol’ mess.

A year later, Marc Essenfeld, chief executive officer of the Carlstadt, N.J.-based facility, recalled what a damage-recovery firm told him in the wake of the disaster.

“Three out of every four companies that go through an event like this are out of business in a year, and the one who survives just takes off,” Mr. Essenfeld said. “We’ve been fortunate. We’ve just been taking off.”

How did Tribeca survive for four weeks while it was out of business?

“Internally, it shook up the operation quite a bit,” Mr. Essenfeld added.

Specifically, the recovery was a test of character for its workforce. After the storm passed, many of the 250 employees came back to the bakery offering to help with the cleanup and the eventual ramp-up of production — some even offered to do it without pay.

“Of course, we paid people,” Mr. Essenfeld said. “It was great to see people rally around the company. However, there were others who said, ‘Call me when you get back up and running.’ We never bothered to call them back.”

Today, he added, the bakery is stronger than ever.

“As Rahm Emanuel once said, ‘Never let a good disaster go to waste,’” Mr. Essenfeld said, paraphrasing Chicago’s Mayor from when he worked for the Obama administration. “We took that philosophy to heart.”

It takes courage and commitment to turn crises and change into a competitive advantage.