A fire that started in the attic early April 15 destroyed the office and manufacturing space at blown film extruder Shadow Plastics Inc., causing an estimated $3 million in damage. As President Terry Schissel watched the smoke billow across Rice Lake, Wis., about 1:30 a.m. from his home two miles away, he remarked to his wife, "If that's Shadow, it's done."
Firefighters soon called to alert him that the fire was, indeed, at Shadow Plastics' 80-year-old plant.
"We had three night extrusion operators working. They didn't even know it was on fire. They started losing their extrusion lines and didn't know the fire was burning," Schissel said in a May 2 telephone interview.
Luckily, an employee from a neighboring factory alerted them that the building was on fire just in time for the workers to escape unharmed, he added.
The blaze spread quickly from the attic down to the plant floor and consumed 30,000 square feet of the 50,000-square-foot facility, taking with it seven extrusion lines and one reprocessing line, Schissel said.
The company's film converting area still is in operation with one line running.
"We're starting to buy film from other competitors just to keep the conversion line going," Schissel said.
Some business is being farmed out to competitors in Minneapolis, Chicago and New Jersey.
"We have taken up quite a few offers for help," he said.
The damage still is being assessed, he said. Only 13 of the company's 35 employees are working, in two 12-hour shifts.
"Our goal is to have everybody back to work by the end of this month," Schissel said.
Meanwhile, Schissel and his brother Troy, who is vice president, are determining whether to rebuild at that site or choose another location in Rice Lake. He is unsure whether the polyethylene film maker would build from scratch or buy an existing building.
He estimates it will take about six months to be at full capacity again. The company had been on pace to process 7 million pounds of resin this year, he added.