Tag Archives: Fulcrum Enterprises

Day 56 after the office flood – so much stuff!

The crew from ABSOLUT Restoration unloaded dozens of additional boxes yesterday, piling them high in the hallways as Leon Hauck from Fulcrum Enterprises darted around the office reestablishing our computer network.

The phones started ringing. Deliveries started arriving. Our postal carrier brought in the mail. Shortly after noon, our wi-fi was working.

Normalcy is a beautiful thing.

We worked all day unpacking what we could, wondering as we went along how we’ve managed to accumulate so much stuff. (Somehow we managed just fine during the 56 days we had to run our business without it.) It seemed like the pile of boxes was growing exponentially, despite our best efforts to keep up.

I started out being very meticulous about unpacking my own boxes — trying to weed out and throw away papers I no longer need. I found one full box of proofreading pages from 2004. That was embarrassing.

I’m urging everyone to take advantage of this enforced opportunity to sort and toss. Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams made a trip to the recycle bin with boxes of old magazines she had collected for design inspiration. I set up a box in one of our empty offices marked “Donate to Goodwill.” In that same room  is a veritable grave yard of unneeded office chairs, most of which have long outlived their usefulness and aesthetic value.

I know the window of opportunity is small. We have deadlines looming for our September magazine. At some point, we’ll have to stop the sorting, cram everything back into drawers and cabinets and move on with our real work.

The story of the Great Office Flood of 2010 — which left our staff “homeless” for 56 days — is coming to a close. It made for a difficult, stressful summer. But it also left us with a greater sense of appreciation for structure, routine and the ability to simply walk down the hall to consult with colleagues.


Day 7 after the flood: Traveling light

One of the things I love about taking a trip is the way it forces you to simplify your life. Especially with all the extra charges now for baggage, you plan very carefully before you leave. If you forget something, you adapt. You buy a replacement or you make do without. You let go. You’re far from home and you can’t do anything about it, so why let the lack of some thing ruin your fun?

When our office flooded exactly a week ago today, we had just a few hours to grab what we thought we’d need to remain functional for up to 30 days. It’s amazing how quickly you can prioritize when you have that kind of deadline. For the most part, we all did a great job of identifying essential files, folders and office supplies. We pulled out enough computer towers (those that hadn’t gotten wet) from which we could access data and software we need to reestablish our workflow.

And yet, as we get back to business this week in the make-shift office that my home has become, we keep stumbling on unanticipated roadblocks. So we adapt. Or make do without. Or let go.

Editorial Intern Brooke Mortensen, a recent college grad, proofreads the July issue page proofs in my kitchen.

For the most part, business is going on as usual. Our July magazine goes to print this week, so proofreading is high on the agenda. Assistant Editor and copyreader extraordinare Mary L. Holden has been out of town, so Writer Mary Ann Bashaw volunteered to read a set of page proofs. (She returned them yesterday with some very astute comments, so I suspect she’ll be drafted for this role more frequently). One of our two amazing interns, Brooke Mortensen, stepped in as well, reading pages under the bright skylight in my kitchen.

Production Manager Tina Gerami, who was working at my house, conferred frequently with Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams, who was working from her home and found herself hamstrung because some of the graphics she needed couldn’t be retrieved from a backup drive. IT consultant Leon Hauck of Fulcrum Enterprises in Phoenix spent a good part of his day troubleshooting that problem with Michelle and she now has everything she needs.

Calendar & Directories Editor Mala Blomquist and her daughter Solvay (11), stuff bags we'll be distributing at this Sunday's Arizona Diamondbacks game.

Calendar & Directories Editor Mala Blomquist showed up yesterday afternoon with her (wonderfully helpful!) 11-year-old daughter Solvay and their family’s chihuahua Bonnie, who often accompanies Mala to work. (As you’ll see below, Bonnie figured out who is in charge in this house and quickly cozied up to the boss.)

I have created an office for myself on the coffee table in my living room. I find it exhilarating to deal with only the five piles of “to do” tasks that can fit on that space instead of the dozens of piles I had amassed in the RAK office — endless and overwhelming minutia that the perfectionist in me would not allow the practical in me to dispense with. Hundreds of those decisions have now been removed, along with everything else in my office, to a warehouse for flood-damage assessment.

Bonnie, the Blomquists' chihuahua and our office mascot, cozies up to the boss.

I like traveling light. I like this simpler life. I like the sense of keen focus that has come to the surface after months and years of feeling anxious and chronically overwhelmed.

Keeping my priorities this sharply outlined in my mind will become more difficult, of course, once I can stop blaming the flood for everything I don’t get done. It’s up to me to learn to let go of what I can, even when I’m not being forced to.

Day 2 after the flood

It’s astonishing to realize how little you really need to run a business. Yesterday we found out.

At 11am, I went back to the scene of what I now refer to as “The Great Flood of 2010.” I had to let the clean-up crew from Chandler-based J & M, Inc. back in and meet with their “pack out” rep, Misti Van Emst, assistant manager of ABSOLUT Restoration in Phoenix. Our insurance claims adjuster, Mike Kenney, from The Hartford, also was there.

Misti and Mike spent more than an hour roaming through our much drier, but still very damp office, scribbling notes, conferring with each other, asking me questions. The roar of nearly 40 fans and dehumidifiers made it almost impossible to hear. Each room has a big bin into which water sucked up by the dehumidifiers is dripping.

With the lights on (yesterday we had to throw the breaker to avoid being electrocuted), it was easier to tell exactly how much damage had been caused by the burst pipe in a tiny, wall-mounted drinking fountain in the Signature Salon studio overhead.

We have sustained significant damage to the wall between our office and the parking garage. It will have to be completely torn out. That means my office and those of Operations Director Debbie Davis and Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams will have to be “packed out.” J&M will box up each item, take it to their facility, dry it out, assess damage and then — once the walls and ceiling are repaired — move it back in. Because the path of the creeping river overhead split into several tributaries traversing our office, two additional rooms that were severely damaged — the offices of Marketing Director MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb and Production Manager Tina Gerami — also must be packed out.

I tried to listen as Misti explained the procedures but my head was fuzzy from lack of sleep and the drone of all that equipment. Finally I figured out the question I needed to ask. “So how long does all this take?” I asked.

“I think it’s going to take at least 30 days,” she said. “You need to get all your people in here to remove anything they may need — anything that’s critical to keeping your business running for the next month. We’d like to start tomorrow.”

She hugged me before she left, reassuring me that her team would get us through this.

Stunned, I moved on to Mike. He, too, was reassuring. Our coverage is solid and includes provisions for “extra business expenses” incurred in the aftermath of an event like this. All the extra electricity to run these giant fans and dehumidifiers? Covered. Extra mileage reimbursement my employees might need as we work from a “virtual” office? Covered. Furniture and technological equipment? Covered. Office supplies? Covered. Even “valuable papers” are covered.

Unfortunately, most of the paper I truly value — Arizona Press Club award notifications, thank you notes from readers, lots of photographs from our company history — is ruined and irreplacable. That’s not covered.

By 3:30 yesterday afternoon, Debbie and I had moved everything we needed over to my home office. Tina and Michelle will go through their offices this morning before the pack-out crew arrives. MaryAnn is out of town for a family member’s bar mitzvah in Chicago, so we will do the best we can to figure out what to salvage from her area.

Today, our IT guy, Leon Hauck, will set up a digital phone and voicemail system in my home and transport all of our our network files to a hard drive in my home. Tina is coming over to prepare invoices that must go out today. Debbie will be here, too. Michelle-Renee is working from her house on design for the July magazine, which goes to the printer on Wednesday. Mala will be at Channel 12 as usual, for her Arizona Midday segment (today it’s at 2pm).

Debbie and I laughed as we trudged through my hallway with our boxes and piles yesterday. “We have a nap room across the hall!” I joked. We’re thinking this might be kind of fun.

On Monday I will assemble my staff for a meeting at my home and we’ll figure out where we go from here. — Karen

The perpetrator in the office above us.

P.S. Staff multimedia journalist Vicki Balint drove to my house yesterday to grab a mini disk of video footage I recorded as we experienced the first 10 hours of the “flood.” I wanted to get it out, to show people, but was too overwhelmed to figure out what to do with it. She has edited it into six segments that now appear on our YouTube channel:

Office Flood: Part I

Office Flood: Part II

Office Flood: Part III

Office Flood: Part IV

Office Flood: Part V

Office Flood: Part VI