Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Fire at Au Ver a Soie

Hello everyone - I thought I would jump in and add some information before panic runs amuck.  Au Ver a Soie is wounded but not devastated.  We talked to one of the owners this morning about the extent of the damage and we will learn much more early next week.  She is a member of the Boucher family who run Au Ver a Soie.

One thing I would like to tell you is that Boucher family is devoted to the production of silk. In the past they have suffered much deeper losses and they have rebounded. In fact, the entire Au Ver a Soie factory was mistakenly bombed by the Americans in WWII and the Boucher family totally rebuilt it. Theirs is an ancient family business, they have always taken the long view of it and just like the factory bombing in WWII, they will bring the business back again from this fire .One of the things they learned from their WWII disaster was the importance of distributing the expertise, machinery and stock to ward off single disasters bringing down a company and they have planned wisely over the years.  While the capability at this plant was severely damaged, the company has a network of machines, partners, etc around France and these partners will help the Boucher family weather this.  Their stock was distributed in multiple places too - phew.  So, being in the know a bit, I am confident that we are not in imminent danger of losing Au Ver a Soie, a relief to us all.

The fire will certainly delay some of the new threads for a while and I am sure that some colors may be scarce for a few weeks, but these conditions will only be temporary.  I am not overly concerned about the machinery losses, an example being a new skeining machine that was destroyed, as the skeining operation for threads sold in the U.S. is done at Access Commodities (we prefer a different size/packaging in this market).  So some capability losses won't impact us as they are already shifted to machinery here.  What I am concerned about is time.  In any small business, there isn't an excess of labor and things like this delay new initiatives in favor of getting basic operations back running.  I know that the time I spend shoveling snow represents hours not spent shipping or working on new things.  It will be the same for Au Ver a Soie, with some things delayed a bit. 
I am sure you will hear about the fire but don't fear - it isn't about a total loss of capabilities, it is more about a diversion of valuable time until they make adjustments. The adjustments may take a few weeks or months, but Au Ver a Soie will indeed be up and running again. 

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