As some of you may be aware, several tornadoes ripped through Middle Tennessee last week. Unfortunately, my training facility and office took a direct hit and was completely destroyed.

I live about a mile and a half from my office, and the picture below was what I saw early morning on March 3. My garage was also bashed in and wouldn’t open, there was lots of roof damage and my SUV’s back window was smashed, among lots of other little things broken. But the houses down the street had much worse damage where the entire front of several houses were completely gone.

When I headed to my office I could tell that it was going to be much worse. On the right side of the road there were big piles of rubble where houses used to be. Arriving at my office it just looked like a big pile of junk. My initial thought was that there was nothing salvageable.

After moving debris for 4 days I was actually able to salvage a fair amount of stuff. Some of it even powered up, including most of Automation Training’s equipment, computers and PLCs.

But all of the work I had put into the hands-on training lab or “mini-factory”, my new vision lab, and all of my Fischertechnik models were gone. Following are some before and after pictures.

Classroom Area
The “Mini Factory”
Vision Lab (In Process)

Amazingly, one thing that did weather the storm fairly well was my new enclosure kit design. Almost all of the old plastic enclosures I used for trainers were broken, missing doors or cracked, while my new extrusion based kits did very well.

Old enclosure design vs. new

At this point I’m not exactly sure how I will proceed. I have set up an office upstairs in my house, and my non-opening garage is full of partially cleaned junk. The remnants of my mini-factory are at Automation NTH’s facility in LaVergne, Tennessee. The classes I had scheduled are still happening (Automation NTH’s intern class at their facility this week and Automation Training’s class at a hotel in Bowling Green, Kentucky next week), and I am still working on ABD’s project in Miami. Fortunately my main laptop and server are still functional.

I don’t know if I will ever rebuild. I really loved going to work at my place and I had reduced my travel quite a bit. I was in the process of creating a world class unique facility, but I feel pretty drained at this point. The Coronavirus situation is slowing everything down and there is a lot of uncertainty about the economy, and training requires proximity to people unless doing it remotely. Travel will probably also be affected.

I still plan to work on writing and material development, and the enclosure and trainer kits are still on the agenda. But like my facility, I am somewhat devastated.


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.