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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Back to Biz - Love thy neighbor (with protection)

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September is Disaster Preparedness Month. Too often when we think about "disaster," we think about a hurricane, fire, flood or something awful that puts us out of business for a period of time - if not forever. But what we don't think about is what would happen if our business neighbor has a disaster and we find ourselves the unsuspecting victim of their tragedy.

If you share a location with other businesses, you are susceptible should anything happen to them. This came to light for me when I interviewed Gabriella Malchionda, the owner of the successful Mad Gabs company in Westbrook. You have likely seen Mad Gabs lip and body balms on store shelves. Gab rents space in a building with other businesses. One day she and her team were going about their business when the fire alarms went off. Gab grabbed her laptop (a decision that turned out to be a critical one) and they all left the building. When they returned, water was pouring from the ceiling and their entire business was flooded. Everything was ruined. The business on the floor above them had a small fire. When the fire department extinguished the fire, the water extinguished Gab's business.

Gab did not give up. She found ways to get back to business, but five years later her company is still recovering from this set back. They relied on the generosity of friends, neighbors, suppliers and their customers who reached out to help and remained patient and supportive while they re-built their inventory and business. Gab told me that she was so glad she took her laptop out of the building that day, as it contained everything about the business. The rest of their files and other computers left behind were ruined by the water. The team worked from her laptop to get the business back up and running. A lesson in the importance of having data back-ups!

Gab also wishes she had better insurance - especially business interruption insurance that would have covered the loss of income after the disaster. She has it now! She has made other changes as a result of this incident including not having any inventory on the floor - everything is raised up in the event of a future flood.

Fortunately Mad Gabs is back in business and growing. Their story is a good reminder that having a disaster recovery plan in place is critical - not only to protect your business from something unexpected happening to you, but also when something unexpected happens to someone close to you.

Need help putting a plan together? Check out and the Disaster Recovery Journal at

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 December 2011 13:11


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