As we approach the two year anniversary of our warehouse fire, we're looking back on the journey that almost ended Bustin, but ultimately made us stronger than ever. In April of 2020 an electric forklift sparked a fire that would destroy EVERYTHING in our warehouse.
We received the call from our landlord early that morning and arrived on the scene to find everything we worked for up in smoke. 20 years of designs, equipment, jigs, tools, computers and everything between.... gone. It was surreal and something I will never forget. Writing this post actually makes me smell the synthetic burn odor that marked the feelings of that day. Experiencing a fire like this creates a unique kind of PTSD that never seems to go away.
That day everything we knew changed. Not only did our entire company burn down in one day's dusk til dawn, but the pandemic was just beginning to rage. Our suppliers were shutting down and our resources to recover were dwindling. Our insurance company told us they would need to do a full investigation before issuing us any funds to help (this process took 9 months).
In the meantime, we had next to nothing except a backup hard-drive and mess to clean up. At times it felt hopeless and there were many days that I wondered if we would ever sell another skateboard. Through those times, it was the support of our Bustin community that gave us hope and creativity. People came out in droves to support and wish us well, and I realized that what we've built in this brand was big enough and important enough to survive whatever it took to pull out of this.
We pushed hard, calling in favors to all of our suppliers and sometimes begging and pleading to help us remake our stuff. So many of them were saviors during this period, doing whatever they could to help us get restocked. But the pandemic raged and everyone's hands were increasingly tied. Within a few months after the fire, wood had become the topic of the industry; you simply could NOT get it. Even if our suppliers had the capacity, they simply didn't have the wood to remake our boards. Needless to say, we were freaking out.
The cycle went on and on while we brought in small amounts of whatever we could whenever we could. We juggled small stacks of inventory, constantly having to update our website to avoid overselling. Each month we were told that it should get better next month; instead it got worse. This lasted for TWO YEARS!
Today, for the first time since, we have a full warehouse of inventory and a full staff of great humans who's passion is turning these wooden slabs into boards that change lives. We are BACK to the custom production model that we created over 20 years of devotion to making better skateboards.
Looking back, I still can't believe how that random twist of fate hit us with no warning, but I'm prouder than ever of this team and this community for pulling through. Insurance ended up giving us something like 2/3 of what we lost and took almost a year to do so. During that year, the Bustin brand should have died a hundred times. Instead we woke up each morning and pushed through. Personally, it was one of the richest experiences of my life and taught me that spirit and optimism are bigger than suffering or fear. Every day we face fires in our lives, big and small, but we have to always trick ourselves into believing that we can overcome them. When the human mind believes, anything, LITERALLY ANYTHING, is possible.
Thanks again to everyone who helped us get through that terrible event. Thanks to those who literally came out and helped us clean up. Thanks to those who sent us messages and phone calls of encouragement. Thanks to those who were patient with your open orders. Thats to those who placed orders even though our lead-times were sometimes 3-4 months on Maestros and other popular models. This was a big deal, but we found out that the Bustin Family is BIGGER.