Business Recovery Planning Success Stories

Follow the example of these business owners and managers who are making their businesses better able to "Stand Up" to earthquakes and other disasters. Don't sit back and wait for the next disaster to destroy your business.
  Pacific Cookie Company in Santa Cruz GROWS Following Loma Prieta Earthquake

On October 17th, 1989, Pacific Cookie Company lost its main production facility, its main retail facility, and, for a limited time, access to its two other retail facilities. Yet in 2004, it is larger and stronger than it was prior to that earthquake.

"We had a variety of 'survival strategies' that were developed as we opened our new 'headquarters' out of my home!
1. Other businesses were extremely helpful. One of our business associates, Erik's Deli, allowed us to continue production in their facility starting at 5 p.m. after they had completed their production. Our supplies were stored with another business associate in the same building.
2. Our bank, suppliers, and even the IRS, gave us the credit we needed and extended payment terms.
3. We needed new customers who were not impacted by the earthquake. We developed a different attitude toward growth, and aggressively went after and landed a large contract with Alaska Airlines."
- Larry Pearson, President, Pacific Cookie Company - Feb. 2004

East Bay Reptile Shop Makes Changes After Loma Prieta Earthquake

Shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle noted that the "East Bay Vivarium (America's largest reptile shop) reports 800 escaped animals, including full-grown boa constrictors, pythons, etc., roaming their giant warehouse."

"The newspaper article was basically correct, except that the number of escaped animals was closer to 3,000, not 800. At the time, our warehouse was on Cypress Street - almost directly under the Cypress Freeway. I remember feeling the earthquake. It shook quite a bit, but there was not much of a problem in our store. The problem was when the freeway collapsed, the shaking from that event tossed the contents of the store like a salad. Now we have converted from glass to wood cages that are less susceptible to breakage and have attached some large units to the walls.

"We moved immediately, not because of damage to our building, but because we couldn't do business with a store with no access. We had gone from being located in a convenient spot with easy freeway access to being located in the backwater of an industrial warehouse district. We are still America's largest and oldest reptile shop. As a specialized business, our clientele found us.

"When the quake hit, the power went out just as the sun was setting. Most reptiles can be temporarily unheated without ill effects. In addition, in October, it was not freezing cold, so it was not life threatening for most of our animals. We did, however, find plenty of dead animals (such as frogs that cannot live without water) and lots of things ate each other.

"When I ran outside, the van with six nurses was literally in front of my store. I was the first on the scene. When I determined that they had all died, I went on to see if there were more people I could help. We got a lot of people down off the freeway, particularly off the upper deck. We found a few blankets to set up a spot for people to be in our parking lot.

"Amazingly, the phones worked. I called my wife at home - we lived in Albany at the time. She wanted to know if I felt it."
- Owen Maercks, Partner, East Bay Vivarium - Feb. 2004

Oakland Skin Care Shop Straps and Braces Contents
"We braced the glass cabinets holding our skin care products, strapped down our computer equipment, and braced our hot water heater.

"We’re basically on top of the Hayward fault. My #1 reason for doing this was safety. If employees or clients are here, we don’t want our heavy glass cabinets falling on them. The second reason is avoiding the expense of replacing cabinets and equipment."

- Celia Lopez, Owner, White Rose Skin Care - Feb. 2004

  Child Care Center Attributes Staff Emergency Training to Children's Safety in World Trade Center Attack

"Knowledge Learning Corp. ran the Children's Discovery Center across the courtyard from the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the only child care center in the complex. The terrorist incident occurred as - and right after - most parents were dropping off their children. Because of the excellent training of the center manager and staff, they were able to lead all of the dozens of children to safety and return all of them to their families unharmed."- Sharon Marshall, Manager of Special Services, Knowledge Learning Corporation - March 2004

Photo Source - CoStar Group, Inc.

"Teachers escorted the children in their classrooms up to twenty blocks to reach their destination and be united with their parents. ... One... staff member was offered a shopping cart from a local market to help carry two children from her classroom up 8th Avenue in a storm of debris and dust." - Knowledge Learning Corporation Press Release - Sept. 14, 2001

"KLC's child care center, .. located at 5 World Trade Center, was destroyed in the disaster; however, the teaching staff at the center saved the lives of all 42 children in their care that day. The emergency card was instrumental in reuniting children with their parents." - Knowledge Learning Corporation Press Release - September 2002



Pet Store Owner Backs Up Records

Merely making a "back-up" does not protect that information if it is left on site. A flood, fire, ... earthquake, or even the malicious act of a disgruntled employee could destroy all records in one location - primary and back-up alike. ... Another advantage of having off-site back-up records is that you can open a temporary office out of your home or another location, even if your primary business office has been destroyed. You can be back in business, at least in part, in a relatively short amount of time!

"Any business should have a back-up system and also have the back-up battery packs. I know that they are expensive, but they don't take up that much room and they ensure you enough time to get out of your system and to back it up.

... This is it. I lose a lot if I lose this - a life's dream. ... a lot of people are going to be disappointed if something happens here!" - Ronie Wheelwright, owner, exotic bird pet store



Bakery Manager Plans with Others for Power Outages

Installing a back-up generator is an excellent way to prevent problems when power to freezers and other equipment goes out. But if that's beyond what you can afford, a simple no-cost agreement with another business may be all that's needed. ...Dunford Bakers have allowed other bakeries to use their massive walk-in freezers and bakery ovens when temporary power outages have shut them down.

"We're all friends. We all know each other. We have common problems and common challenges. So when that occurs, we're very happy to help and where we can, we do! It's been a good thing for us and it's been a good thing for our so-called "competitors" because we're in this thing together!" - Doug Dunford, Bakery Manager

Most of the above stories were obtained by ABAG staff talking directly to the participants. However, the above stories on Ronie Wheelwright and Doug Dunford are based on a video, Not Business as Usual - Emergency Planning for Small Businesses, prepared by Project Impact in Salt Lake City, funded by a Project Impact Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and produced in cooperation with Salt Lake City Emergency Management and the Utah Chapter of the Association of Contingency Planners, April 2002.

ABAG, the Association of Bay Area Governments, is the regional planning and services agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
The writing and production of the materials and reports of this page and the others in this section of the ABAG Earthquake Program web site were funded in large part by Grant No. 01-HQGR-0214 from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), as well as by the Association of Bay Area Governments. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies. Last updated 4/7/04 by jbp.