BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — United Industries Chief Executive Officer (CEO) talked about the massive fire at the company’s core plastics manufacturing business in Bentonville, Arkansas, on Wednesday, December 4.
President and CEO Mark Ferm, 51, said fire alarms went off around 11:30 a.m. “The fire started outside at the back of the lot, not inside the building.” That area is where a styrofoam product is stored. “It [the fire] looked worse than it probably was.”
The local fire department showed up along with other fire agencies. An investigation is underway and Ferm said he also wants to know what started the fire and “not speculate as to the cause [of the fire].”
Ferm hopes he can enter the building in the next day or two and assess the damage and costs. “Our goal is to minimize the disruption of business and get our employees back to work.”
He met with employees and said, “you may not be working for the next week or two, but you’re gonna’ keep getting paid.”
Ferm called it a “horrible accident” and is glad “no one got hurt.”
As far as getting the business running Ferm described a wide window time and speculated, “until we get in the building, in as little as a couple of days … and I think worse case, six weeks.”
On the first shift, there are about 90 employees, about 140 overall, and Ferm said he and his family consider them [employees] “family.”
Ferm was appointed as CEO in 2017 and succeeds his brother and former CEO, John Ferm. His father, Don Ferm founded the business in 1980.
Mark has worked with the Bentonville-based company since 1993.
The company produces foam core sheet products, according to its website.