It was Friday, April 29, and the radars started looking ugly around four o'clock. We were seeing counties in front of ours go under tornado warnings. When it became apparent that we were in the direct line of fire of a tornado, there were several leaders that were stepping up and saying, "Hey guys, listen this isn't a drill. This is serious. Let's get into our safe areas." Reports said it would hit around 6:15PM, and sure enough about 6:18PM it was on top of us. You could feel the pressure changing in the building and in the rooms. The ceiling tiles started bouncing up and down like they were gonna blow out of there. Within two minutes it was done.
At first, I don't think we even realized how much of a direct hit it was and how much damage we’d sustained. But quickly afterwards, we could see large holes in the roof. A fire line had ruptured in the building and was dumping water into the facility out of a 250-thousand gallon fire reserve tank. We had several 60-thousand pound air handlers on our roof that were thrown off their mounting stands and destroyed. In the parking lot, every light pole was down – most laid across the tops of cars. But everybody was safe. Nobody was injured whatsoever so that was the biggest blessing we could've had. Everybody was reaching out and taking care of one another.
One of the things I notice about the Hawkins facility and the people who work here is how much engagement and ownership is shown at all levels. Just a lot of pride in the facility. A lot of pride in the work we do. From the quality of the product we're putting out to the family atmosphere, it’s real important to people. Our team was already a close-knit group. I’d say the most positive thing to come out of this experience is the teamwork and the passion to get back to where we were and then get even better and stronger than ever.