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Anniversary Story | May 25, 2017

Good Enough is Never Good Enough

Hurricane Sandy swept into New York City on October 29, 2012, its drenching rains and high winds crippling the city, and damaging hundreds of miles of surrounding coastline.  As power failed and waters rose in Manhattan, our team was safe and dry 500 miles away in Virginia—unaware that we’d need to spring into action and join the relief effort.

It started with an early morning phone call to Executive Vice President John Britt from his client at a prominent government contracting firm. Earlier that year, John’s team had completed a $56M renovation of the company’s DC headquarters. “When we wrapped the job, I told them the same thing I tell all of my clients: if you ever need help with anything, just pick up the phone and give me a call. It doesn’t matter how small, difficult, or unusual the request may be, we will help you any way we can,” said John.

The client was calling to see if John’s statement was sincere, because his request was a bit outside the normal scope of general contracting.  He explained that his company managed the contract for New York City’s 911 networks, and a power outage due to the storm was jeopardizing critical emergency communications systems. Generators were now powering the cell towers, and they had no means of providing fuel to keep them running. He wanted to know if HITT could help; John didn’t hesitate to say yes.

At first the solution seemed fairly straightforward. We would call one of our site work subcontractors, have him fill one of his diesel tankers, and drive it to New York—problem solved. However, it turned out that the generators were fueled by gasoline, not diesel—the first obstacle in a series of challenges. “I knew we needed help,” recalled John. With Facilities Manager Mike Koechlin and Project Manager Jonathan Holland at the ready, the team set out to find a solution.

Since diesel fuel wouldn’t do the trick, the two men wrangled empty gas tanks and headed north with a two-truck convoy, stopping to fill up outside the city. By 1 a.m., they made it to the warehouse in Brooklyn where the client was awaiting their arrival. Working together, they all began unboxing and filling the generators. “These were the same generators you could get at Home Depot,” said Mike. “We were doing our best with limited resources.” Nevertheless, they worked, allowing all 95 cell sites to remain operational. Once that was achieved, they moved on to keeping those sites filled on schedule, ensuring that there was no lapse in power for these vital systems.

“This isn’t just about our willingness to help our clients,” said John. “It’s equally important to recognize the hard work and dedication of Jonathan and Mike. They dropped everything, headed to New York, and labored tirelessly for two weeks straight to help our client.  Without people like them willing to do whatever it takes, there would be no story to tell.”

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