Sunday evenings are supposed to be a relaxing end to the weekend, but for Mary Daly and her colleagues, that evening in May 2004 brought complete devastation. The telephone rang. “Mary, you are not going to believe this. The plant is on fire.” A fire had broken out at the Sennheiser plant in Ireland and had spread so quickly and intensely that most of the production area and some offices had been burned and badly destroyed. “My first thought was: What will we all do? That was our second home. It was more than just a workplace that went up in flames that night. We thought that was the end.”
Whenever a home is on fire, the family rallies round to pick up the pieces. The first family members—the Managers from Germany—arrived first thing on Monday morning (as we all know not so easy to travel from Hannover to Ireland with no direct flight).. “So far, I had managed to keep my emotions in check until I saw one of the Managers crying as he surveyed the debris and smoke.” The visit from management was just the beginning. Mary had no idea how big her international family really was.
“I immediately travelled to Germany to use their MRP system to inform customers of the situation and to support management to initiate emergency measures to ensure the continuation of production. Some of the workforce followed and took up alternative production roles in Germany. The other employees began to assess the extent of the damage once the site was open to the public. We set up offices in portacabins in the land next to the building, carried what could be saved outside and cleaned the material while we were waiting for a temporary building to be assigned,” says Mary. “We stank of soot and fire when we got home in the evening. This went on for weeks on end.”
The family pulled together. Mary’s colleague cooked for the crew every day. One day she said: “I can’t manage this anymore. There are so many more people arriving here every day...” Colleagues from Germany were regularly making their way to Ireland because they wanted to help out. Mary remembers the wave of solidarity among her colleagues far more than the fire itself. “It was truly incredible. We all grew so much closer. One of my colleagues even said to me: ‘I always thought you were a bit snobby, but you’re actually pretty nice.’” She laughs. “When we moved into our newly built plant, everything was so new and clean. We hardly dared to touch the equipment. Everyone was a little more careful to keep everything in perfect condition.” Just like when any family moves into a new home.