Last year, the Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS) featured a spotlight on a company, Diamond Data Systems, Inc., who [much luck countless others] had suffered severe setbacks as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Overnight, DDS essentially went from being a “local” to a “national” company after Hurricane Katrina. Employees were temporarily spread out throughout the country in Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. The experiences of Diamond Data Systems, Inc. are an amazing example or determination and resolve.
Joey C. Auer, President & CEO Diamond Data Systems, Inc. took the time to pen some thoughts regarding a few questions I had for him. According to Auer, “It has been quite a challenge and intense disruption of life as we knew it.”
Some of the challenges Auer and company faced:
- Revenue we generated from the impacted areas went from 60 – 0 regardless of “anti-lock brakes”
- Both our employees & our clients were wounded and needed 150% of our attention
- Complete collapse of communications made even the simplest tasks ever so difficult.
- Our shareholders and many had visions of question marks in their minds.
- “Restoration” of community attitude was in need of repair in addition to our structures.
On the flip-side, a number of opportunities resulted from the experience:
- To prove that a hero does not have to wear an elastic suit with an “S” across the chest. They dress just like you and me and they stepped up to the plate in time of need. A refreshing reminder that the “good” are in the majority and will ultimately prevail. We had employees working 20 hour days & driving hundreds of miles daily everywhere to help out. There are many more examples that I could go on about.
- To prove our strength as an organization, the strength of our people, and our integrity, we held employee conference calls (70+) every week, held daily management conf calls, paid every employee for everyday throughout, and took the lead in our community to commit to rebuilding. Results were a total loss of five (5) employees (see this link)
- To importance of our LIDAR technology used by the GIS community awarded by NASA to DDS pre-Katrina was proved. (see this link)
To give you an sense of how Auer and company responded, a press release in October mentioned that company was committed to their clients and employees. As a result they pledged to pay all their employees during the down-turn. From the PR
… Because of this unquestioned commitment to its people, DDS employees like Dale Theriot from the DDS’ Stennis Space Center office had this to say following the conference call, “I lost everything in the storm except a few clothes that were in my car. It would be very easy for me to go someplace with a lot of secure job opportunities and
places to stay. I am staying because I really enjoy working for my client, my project is exciting, and I love working for my DDS manager and DDS, especially after what I’ve witnessed during this crisis.”
Some lessons learned from the experience:
- Never ever think failure is an option. If you believe it is an option, it will probably fail.
- Never underestimate the importance of diversity within your company. This includes facilities, your information sharing, your customer base, etc. Ensure if one location is wiped out, can you continue to run efficiently and deliver your products/services
Summary From Mr. Auer
“Our firm lost a total of five employees, lost no customers, gained several new high profile clients, finished 2005 with a strong & profitable year, and we are expecting to distribute bonuses this month. Additionally & interesting, we now have a national footprint of employees & clients… two years ahead of schedule due to Katrina.”
Truly a great story… it’s no wonder that DDS was written up in 2003 as one of New Oleans’ Best Places to Work!
About Diamond Data Systems – www.diamonddata.com
Diamond Data Systems is a leading provider of high value IT solutions that include IT strategy, software engineering, network infrastructure design, information assurance, IT contracting and IT outsourcing. DDS has delivered these solutions to commercial enterprises in a variety of industries including healthcare and oil & gas as well as federal
and local governments. DDS was selected as one of the “Top 10 Places to Work” in the Greater New Orleans region. DDS is headquartered in New Orleans, LA with an office at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Thanks to Mr. Auer for his feedback and congratulations and best wishes to him, his employees and their families.