California wildfires are in the news. Across the US we see photos and headlines every day, and as is common nowadays, some of the messages are dire. A recent example is a photo of fires burning on the hills and a headline saying, “California is becoming unlivable.” This news is not only of concern to California residents; it is of concern to those with family and friends and those who do business in the state.
For an ‘on the ground’ report on the situation, especially as it relates to AMS Fulfillment and the AMS employees, we have requested an interview with Ken Wiseman, Chief Workforce Development Officer and former CEO. Ken is a long-time volunteer with SCV Search and Rescue, a supporter and friend of the SCV Sheriff’s Department and President of the Sheriff’s Foundation. As such, he is more informed than most on natural disasters.
Thank you for agreeing to an interview, Ken. First, could you give us an overview? To the best of your knowledge, what’s going on with CA fires and power outages that we hear about in the news? We hope it’s not as dire as portrayed in some reports.
With the warmer and dryer weather trends, mixed with our Santa Ana winds, it seems that the fire season now extends throughout the year. It is particularly dangerous with the winds and dry air as the fires grow that much more quickly and are much more difficult to fight. California is staffed with some of the best First Responders in the world, and through careful planning, resources are always near at hand as we enter the particularly high-risk times. Personally, I think that, as part of good planning, the fire department utilizes existing fires, under controlled circumstances and where appropriate, to burn away non-resident threatening areas to help eliminate the fuel for future fires.
As you probably know, burning off the dried brush areas has long been a natural part of California life. Once burned, the areas are much less susceptible to fires in the coming years. What has made the fires more dangerous is the steady desire of many builders to develop lands deep within increased fire risk areas. These developments, coupled with the warming and drying trends become a reason for the increased risk to homes.
Are there fires are located near your HQ and warehouse areas, or have there been power outages or air quality issues?
The fires this year so far have caused evacuations for several of our employees. (An employee’s father lost a boat and camping trailer, but did not lose his home.) While we have not had any fires or smoke near our buildings this year, we have had a number of freeway and school closures that have impacted our employees, making it difficult for them to come to work. Travel time for some employees more than doubled, or in some cases blocked their commute altogether. Also, electric outages, most done as a precautionary measure, have caused a fair amount of challenge for employees who must wrestle with home issues while still trying to come to work.
Have any fire related issues affected fulfillment services for your clients?
So far, our AMS team has done a great job handling the volume of orders we receive, in spite of the lower attendance on some days. Everyone pitches in, and non-time critical work is given an extra day or so to complete while all available hands are focused on time critical product shipments.
We live in an ever-changing environment and business climate, and the key to survival is to accept change and modify our processes to accomplish our customers’ objectives. We do so with an amazing group of employees that are driven to support our customers through thick or thin smoke!
Thank you Ken for informing us, first hand, on what is happening with the AMS family. Thank you to the employees for staying strong during what must be a frightening situation for many.