The day that smoke from his business darkened Fort Wayne's skyline was about the worst day a business could suffer, but Momper notes that it “might have the greatest day, too, for showing our resolve as a company.”
The company had backed up its computer records off-site, and it collected the dividends from that foresight while firefighters were still dousing flames. Momper and managers at the company used those back-ups to reconstruct their job list and to start leasing, buying and borrowing equipment they needed to keep working.
They had 39 jobs scheduled the day after the fire; his crews did 35 of them.
The fire destroyed 45 vehicles the business owned, including 15 specialty trucks for handling chemicals and foam. But Momper and his employers were on the phones and on the roads within hours, searching for crucial equipment in Chicago, Crown Point, South Bend, Cincinnati, Toledo and Mansfield, Ohio.
Employees had to improvise and refit constantly to cobble together a fleet of work trucks; that created another benefit for his employees in the rebuilding. In a soft market for construction, his installers, mechanics and other employees were working about as much overtime as they could handle. Many worked 55-70 hours a week, Momper recalls.
The company owned two warehouse buildings adjacent to those that burned, and those made a cramped but workable headquarters for the business while they rebuilt. They didn't have as much room to stock materials, but manufacturers and distributors hungry for sales during a slow time in construction often accommodated Momper with next-day deliveries, he said.
As it turns out, his business has grown enough that he has added about a dozen new employees since the fire. They've moved into the new headquarters between July and September. At 32,000 square feet, it's slightly smaller than the complex of buildings that burned in 2011, he said, but it's better organized.
Built in one project, instead of added piece by piece over decades, the new headquarters offered Momper the opportunity to design a more energy-efficient facility, with motion-sensing office lighting and heated storage only for the supplies that need temperature-controlled storage.
Of course, it's well-insulated.
“For a warehouse building, it's probably the best-insulated building in the United States,” Momper said.