After a Harpers Ferry business lost roughly $100,000 worth of technical equipment in a fire last week, several Frederick companies stepped in to help the West Virginia business reconstruct its operations.
By Paige Jones, Frederick News-Post.
Data Direct Inc., an information technology business, was one of eight businesses destroyed in the fire that engulfed at least three historic buildings in Harpers Ferry early Friday.
“We had alarms, of course, so the alarm company called us at 3:30 in the morning that [Friday],” said John Maxey, president of Data Direct. “We jumped in the car [and when we arrived], there were fire companies from three states and federal agencies. It was quite something to see; there was smoke just pouring down along the Shenandoah River ... and flames were just shooting up into the sky.”
Maxey said Data Direct lost computers, printers and network devices in the fire. Invaluable paper records were also lost, and the Potomac Street building was damaged, he said.
“We’re very lucky to be in a type of business that isn’t reliant on the physical location. ... We had the ability to move and stay in business this way,” Maxey said. “We consider ourselves to be very lucky.”
Data Direct is operating at an office near Charles Town, West Virginia, a luxury that other businesses do not have. This, coupled with help from several businesses based in Frederick, made it possible for the business to get back on its feet within days of the fire, according to Maxey.
Through working with the electronics recycling company e-End, which is based in Frederick, Maxey said he acquired computer monitors, work stations and other used technical equipment at a discounted price of roughly $2,000.
“They had everything I was looking for, for just a fraction of what it would cost,” Maxey said.
Without e-End, Maxey speculated he would have had to order the equipment from Dell. It likely would have taken several weeks for Maxey to receive the shipment, and cost thousands of dollars more, he said.
“To be able to just drive to Frederick, go in this warehouse and find anything I can imagine ... it was such a great feeling,” Maxey said.
Steve Chafitz, president of e-End, described Maxey as a “kid in a candy shop” during his visit to e-End. The company not only had the servers Maxey needed, but also other equipment such as cables and monitors.
“We were more excited than he was ... excited we could help him,” Chafitz said.
Jason Zarrella and Dylan Lipp, members of e-End’s IT department, helped Maxey secure the equipment he needed. In addition, Zarrella said he helped test all the products to ensure they worked properly, which took roughly three hours.
“It felt very good to be able to … get him the things he needed to get his business up and running, and we were also able to provide equipment for a great deal less,” Zarrella said.
Maxey spent about 2½ hours at e-End last week gathering equipment and returned Tuesday for more, Chafitz said.
“We showed him the products, went over the things he was looking for, helped collect enough material to be able to rebuild his network — everything from the cabinets down to the wires he would need for every system,” Zarrella said.
In addition to e-End, Maxey said Data Direct has also received help from Ameritel Corp., an office equipment supplier, and Restronic, a restoration service. Both are based in Frederick.
“That’s the kind of thing businesses have to depend on each other for,” Maxey said, referring to the businesses helping other businesses. “It’s gratifying to see people do that.”