If you missed PART 1 - you can read more here
After a gruelling three months of vacuuming water out of the building and pushing deadlines out, Mother Nature gave us a break, and work commenced on completing the roof. Things started to go our way at RAVE HQ; plumbers and electricians were back in the building with their radio wars, and things were coming together. That was until a week later when we started to involve utility companies and tried to move the new Loring roaster. It was the start of probably one of the most intense times and the beginning of the phrase "gates".
Unfortunately, two came at once "transport & gas gate" -moving an almost 2-ton roaster 5 miles down the road was an interesting feat - who'd of known how difficult it would be to hire a forklift with 2.5m extension rods to then be faced with the familiar sharp intake of breath from the forklift driver and the phrase "I don't think I'm insured to move that"... in came the help from Chandlers Farm Equipment with their teller handler to save the day.
The gas meter could only be fitted once the contract had been signed, and the contract could only be created once we knew what usage both roasters would require; an estimate wasn't good enough. Plumbers were pushed back, and the only engineer who could commission the roaster was already on his way from Europe. Endless phone calls while pacing the car park and a week of intense mathematical calculations on the calorific content of gas and the gas loss calculation were enough to tip the balance. Friday morning, as the engineer drove down the road at 9 am, the gas meter was finally being fitted, and the plumbers could return to work.
All the roaster parts were in the building, and its complex installation could begin. The final layout for production and dispatch was mapped out on the floor using chalk; in the style of the film "the founder", things were looking up! The flue contractors started to work on the flues for both roasters, and the smaller Loring roaster was moved from our old site on Love Lane.
Then came "lead gate", after inspecting the roof to determine the installation points for the new flues, we discovered that all the lead had been stolen from the roof! Our mood quickly shifted to feeling deflated and disheartened. However, this was quickly interrupted on the same day by "ladder gate" when the flue contractor made the unfortunate mistake of incorrectly placing the foot of the ladder. Thankfully, I can report no one was hurt apart from the contractor's pride and an additional few bends into the flue piping, halting work for another few days!
By Friday night of that week, production and despatch had moved in, new weigh-fill machines and vacuum pumps were installed, and both roasters were tested and commissioned. We carried out trial orders on Sunday to ensure continuity. Monday morning was a dream come true, everything was in its place, and the orders flowed. But then, an afternoon of thunderstorms and gale-force winds meant by 5 pm, we were back vacuuming up water from a blocked pipe; flood gate had started. But, now being experts in the field of "gate fixing", by 11pm a full drain survey had been carried out with expert equipment such as an iPhone torch. The rain finally stopped and by 8 am the following morning, the pipe was replaced and flow restored.
Our office staff started to move in, and the whole RAVE team was under one roof for the first time in many years. Plans were underfoot for a launch party, and even though some local youths thought it would be a good idea to break in via the skylight, it didn't perturb us - we were on a roll. The launch party was a huge success and the cafe opened just after the May Bank Holiday.
Having gone through some stressful times over the months of October 2022 to March 2023, I wouldn't change a thing, I have learnt so much and have worked with some of the most amazing building contractors, electricians and plumbers. The camaraderie, humour and teamwork got us through the rollercoaster of "gates" into a building that is RAVE.