Last Thursday, more than 240 Retail Confectioners International (RCI) convention attendees toured Savage Bros. offices and its manufacturing facility in Elk Grove Village, Ill. The next day, 11 employees in the company’s engineering area of the 81,500-sq.-ft. complex were startled to hear a rumbling sound around 1:45 p.m.
“We thought it was an earthquake,” recalled Bob Parmley, company president. Unbeknownst to anyone, the 8-inch water main under the annex portion of the building had ruptured.
“Above the water line, walls began to split, ceiling tiles fell and the concrete slab floor felt like it was ‘floating’,” he explained. “We evacuated the building before water began coming out of the doorways.”
It was the 5,000-sq.-ft. engineering wing of offices — which was an addition to the main building — that was directly affected. As Parmley told Candy Industry, the floor cracked and heaved, causing the walls to rise 3-4 inches in places and collapse much of the false ceiling.
Consequently, the walls will have to be gutted and the concrete floor broken up so a new slab can be poured, he explained. Fortunately, the outside walls and roof were not damaged as none of the inside walls were weight bearing. 
However, before the water to the main could be turned off, the main office and the remaining 75,000-sq.-ft of the manufacturing building were flooded.
“Our people, working alongside a restoration contractor, removed the standing water Saturday and got the manufacturing plant, which had only water damage, back into full operation Tuesday, losing only one full day of production,” Parmley said.
“We have relocated the 11 people who worked in the engineering wing into the main office, re-cabled the entire building for computers and phones, and moved our servers from the damaged building to the main office,” he added. “Our office is up and running again today. Amazing recovery if you could see this place. To dry out the walls and prevent mold, all drywall has been cut away 2 feet off the floor. What a mess!”
Savage Bros. had moved into the Elk Grove facility only 19 months ago, Parmley explained, noting that the company spent five months rehabbing the building.
“We discovered from the firemen that this water main has had previous breaks, so we are going to abandon it and put a new water service main above ground and run it under the roof,” he said. “When I went to City Hall, I checked the work permits and discovered that there was work done on the water main in 2010 and 2014. Of course, we knew nothing about that earlier.”
Insurance inspectors are evaluating the damage done, but he estimates repairs and renovation may well exceed $500,000.
“They will have to excavate the concrete and haul it out before anything can get done,” Parmley said. In the interim, the company is open for business and production work continues.
“We were just so thankful we finished the RCI tours of over 240 people on Thursday and that we evacuated the building of about 55 people quickly without anyone getting hurt,” Parmley emphasized.