Monday, January 6, 2014

From the flood to the trickle, CompuCure survives

It's tough for any small business to survive. Actually, as General Motors and Montgomery Ward have shown, it's tough for any large business to survive. But small businesses, who often put all of their eggs in a single basket, are more vulnerable to bad times.

Take CompuCure. This was a small company that started in 1988, providing technology services to its clients within the city of its founding - New Orleans, Louisiana.

Things went - um, swimmingly - for nearly two decades. Then:

Hurricane Katrina nearly killed CompuCure. In the wake of the storm, just three of us remained by Oct. 1, 2005, and the weeks ahead promised to be grim for our New Orleans-based IT services firm -- what was left of it anyway. But we weren’t going to let that damn storm chase us away from our city.

By September 2013, eight long years after Katrina wiped out so many lives and businesses, CompuCure had rebounded sufficiently to make Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest growing businesses in America.

CompuCure grew by concentrating on its key strengths:

CompuCure distinguishes itself through its ability to help government-sector clients transform inefficiencies and misalignment into highly-functioning assets.

Did you catch that phrase "government-sector clients"? Yup, CompuCure concentrated on serving a Federal customer base, which served it well for a time, but by October 2013, a storm bigger than Katrina threatened the company - the government shutdown.

At 4:50 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2013, we received the first of the stop work orders that we knew would come after Congress adjourned the previous night without a budget. As planned, we kept our employees on the payroll and prepared to close operations at the federal sites. Our staff turned off equipment, locked away supplies and closed the doors. We knew we could hold on for a couple of weeks, but it was not a timeline we wanted to test.

Near the end of week two, we were deeply worried. Even though one of our project teams had been declared “critical” and had excess fiscal 2013 budget funds available to continue working, paying for the rest of the company and 100 percent of their health insurance had generated losses approaching $100,000 in just 10 days. We discussed a companywide furlough, an act that could have far-reaching implications.

As it turned out, the government shutdown was resolved before CompuCure had to furlough the entire company. But it was touch and go.
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