Picking Up The Pieces

Terrorist attacks leave small information technology firm bent but not broken

September 11 began as a normal workday for Patrick Duroseau. Arriving at his office at 8:15 a.m. on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center, Duroseau, president of Marnic Technologies, prepared for a meeting. Less than a half hour later he went to the restroom but found the door’s coded lock unwilling to open.

As Duroseau searched for someone who could assist him, he noticed paper floating outside of a nearby window. “It looked like a ticker tape parade,” he says. “The first thought in my mind was, ‘How did garbage get so high?’”

Realizing something was very wrong, Duroseau, 29, ran to get his laptop and then took the stairway to the 78th floor where express elevators ran to and from the lobby. Ignoring the public address telling employees to go back to their offices, Duroseau — the only one from his firm in the building at the time — made a narrow escape.

Marnic Technologies, a 10 employee information-technology consulting firm founded by Duroseau in 1997, had moved into the World Trade Center just four months earlier to better service its clients, which include Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan Chase, Cigna, and Lockheed Martin.

Within two hours of Duroseau’s arrival, the company, which specializes in networking architecture, design, and implementation and project management, found itself homeless and missing critical data — such as accounting files, client records, proposals and marketing brochures — none of which were backed up offsite. Making matters worse, Marnic’s customers were suddenly more interested in rebuilding their infrastructures than implementing new technology systems.

Two weeks later, Duroseau was on the phone asking clients to provide information about projects that Marnic Technologies had already bid on. Employees worked from home, and the company’s outside accountant was called on to help reconstruct the firm’s financial records.

Duroseau found some relief in the form of an unsolicited $1,500 grant from the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. In mid-November, he also applied for and received a $95,000 low-interest disaster relief loan backed by the Small Business Administration.

With $600,000 in revenues for 2000, Duroseau estimates actual sales for 2001 at $750,000, down from an expected $1.5 million. But despite the drop, Duroseau remains upbeat. He’s changing the focus of his business in hope of landing contracts with government agencies rather than financial firms by taking advantage of being an 8(a) business. This enables minority-owned firms to receive federal contracts under the SBA business development program. “Our goal has always been to work more with the government, but our main revenue stream has come from the private sector,” says Duroseau. “Now we’re 100% focused on that as our main source of new business.”

Duroseau says the company has already bid on several projects to develop and expand information technology infrastructures for government agencies.

Despite the tragedy that rocked his company, Duroseau is optimistic about the future. In January, Marnic Technologies moved to two new locations in New York and Virginia, the latter re-establishing the company’s commitment to servicing the government in nearby Washington, D.C. Marnic Technologies will also be expanding into the

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