Sixty miles up the 405 freeway stands the sprawling 95-acre Anheuser-Busch brewery where, since 1954, some of the world’s most famous beer labels are made: Budweiser, Bud Light and more recent labels like Bud Ice, Kirin Ichiban and Chelada.

That Van Nuys facility today is a testament to the financial benefits of seismic resilience – having suffered significant loss in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, but capable of getting right back to business following the Northridge quake of 1994.

Extensive damage from the Sylmar quake forced the brewery to shut down. Competitors were able to make large gains into the Anheuser-Busch market share, resulting in significant financial loss that motivated the brewery to place a greater value on seismic design, the California Seismic Safety Commission wrote in a 1999 case study. Hard-hit by the reality of being unprepared in the Sylmar quake, the self-proclaimed “King of Beers” upgraded the brewery with earthquake retrofits and new construction designed to the latest seismic standards.

The money invested in those upgrades paid off when the Northridge earthquake struck that same region 23 years later. “Anheuser-Busch estimated that their facility would have suffered a direct property loss of about $350 million from the Northridge earthquake had there been no seismic strengthening,” the Seismic Safety Commission reported. “This averted damage is more than 30 times the actual cost of the brewery’s loss control program.”

Could you survive damage or a total loss to your apartment building? Mom and pop owners are extremely vulnerable to the risks presented by earthquakes. The greater the damage, the graver the loss. Consider these risks:

Loss of cash flow: Even if your building is still standing, tenant relocation for repairs can mean added expense and a loss of revenue, putting a heavy strain on an apartment owner’s ability to pay ongoing expenses.

Liability: Business owners may be held liable for losses incurred by employees or customers when negligence is a factor. Case law shows that if you own a building vulnerable to earthquake hazards – and you know it – you could be considered negligent if someone is injured or killed by damage from your building.

Out-of-pocket expenses: Very few buildings are insured against earthquakes, which puts a double-whammy on owners who need to keep making payments on their mortgage with no rental income coming in. Beyond that, they also need to find the money needed to demolish and dispose of the old structure and build a replacement.

If your apartment building is the type prone to damage in an earthquake, a seismic retrofit may be the protection you need to keep your investment and your rental income business intact. Anheuser-Busch spent $1.2 million in seismic retrofits and other upgrades — an expense that ultimately saved the business more than $1.1 billion in combined property and business loss when the 1994 Northridge quake hit, state and federal officials reported.

Listed below are three steps you can take to protect your tenants and your bottom line:

  • Identify your building’s vulnerabilities:  Throughout California, there are a frightening number of buildings that have been deemed vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake. This includes wood-framed, soft-story structures built before 1978, tilt-ups constructed prior to the late 1970s, unreinforced masonry, and some older non-ductile and steel moment frame buildings.
  • Make certain that non-structural issues are secure. This includes water heaters, shelving, cabinetry, fixtures, stairs, walkways and balconies and large trees.

If you think your apartment building may be at risk, call Optimum Seismic at 833-978-7664 to arrange a free consultation.