GE Aids Super Storm Sandy Restoration

Eighty-mph winds gusted, coastlines flooded, and power was knocked out to millions of homes on the north coast during Super Storm Sandy. Not surprisingly, power companies were overwhelmed. 

As First Energy crews in New Jersey sorted out power restoration details following the storm, they found themselves in need of street lighting.

“As the process of restoring power was coming to a close, they wanted to keep the crews in the area and begin to restore the city street lighting,” says Bob Petersen, GM – Global LED and Fixture Manufacturing. “However, in the chaos of the situation, they never ordered fixtures to support this effort.”

That's when they called GE's lighting plant in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Having heard about the plant's recent transformation that resulted in an improved manufacturing and shipping time, the utility asked how quickly the plant could produce and ship 5,000 pieces of traditional High Intensity Discharge (HID) streetlights

Holiday on hold

“The tough part of the equation was that they needed the first 1,000 lights to be shipped on Veteran's Day, a scheduled holiday,” says Bob. “I immediately called Patrick Peterson, the plant manager in Hendersonville, and told him about the opportunity and what needed to be done. Within an hour, I received a call back from Patrick, and he indicated that everyone that supported this product line at the plant volunteered to give up their scheduled holiday to meet the customer requirements.”

It was certainly time well spent. In just one day, nearly 40 employees built and delivered the first 1,000 pieces to the utility as required.

Worth the effort

“It was worth giving up some of my time to assist people who needed the help. I've been in the dark from a hurricane too, so I know how it feels,” says Jennifer Frady, Material Handler.

Her co-workers agree the extra effort was worth it.

“I worked to help drive customer loyalty and satisfaction when they really needed it,” says Greg McMurray, Team Associate Assembly. “It's what keeps us working here.”

Transformational journey made it happen

Just two years ago, providing this quick turnaround time would have been much more difficult and perhaps impossible. When the plant began its transformational journey, stated customer lead times were four to six weeks, and just 40 percent of the time were they delivered on time. Now, after implementing new Lean demand and material management processes, accompanied by improved manufacturing flow, the plant can meet its target of a 10-day customer lead-time 98 percent of the time.

“We have significantly changed the way the plant operates,” says Patrick Peterson, Plant Manager. “The employees are focused on the customer, with service and quality as a priority. We realized that to improve our business, we must measure ourselves through the eyes of our customers.” 

In this case, the quick turnaround resulted in both plant employees and customers seeing firsthand how the customer-centric process eliminated inefficiencies and improved overall satisfaction.

“In the past, we were told by the customer that we would have never received this call, and the order would have gone to our competitor,” says Bob. “Two years ago, the people on the shop floor didn't even know when a customer order was due, and now they're customer zealots, always working to meet the due dates and to over deliver on customer expectations. We're proud not only of what they did in this particular situation, but in their overall desire to transform the work process to improve the customer experience.”

More information about the plant's transformation can be seen in this video


Employees in Hendersonville, North Carolina voluntarily gave up a day off to provide street lighting to power restoration crews following Super Storm Sandy. The plant manufactured and shipped 1,000 pieces in just one day