Back In Business

“I woke up every day feeling pointless,” remembers Percy Marchand. “I thought I’d reached a pinnacle in my career, and Katrina wiped it all out. I took it as a sign.”

The 26-year-old entrepreneur’s New Orleans-based, full-service printing company, Marchand Ink, was a dream finally fulfilled, so seeing his business and his hometown in ruins was too much to handle.

“I had invested $25,000 in new equipment and furniture,” recalls Marchand, who moved his company on Aug. 23, 2005 into a larger, more prominent space in the same building he had been in since 2001 on Gentilly Boulevard. But unbeknownst to him, Marchand Ink’s move took place just days before a Category 4 hurricane would make landfall and blow through the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina’s torrential rains, brutal winds, and deadly aftermath destroyed it all. Marchand Ink’s new office was flooded with nearly three feet of water.

“Everything I worked for and earned was underwater, [which] was so devastating to see.” According to Marchand, Katrina caused some $50,000 in uninsured flood damage to the property and equipment.

The catastrophic storm also forced Marchand and his family to flee to Houston; they were among 13 displaced people forced to live in a two-bedroom apartment. All of this left Marchand depressed to the point of having suicidal thoughts.

But it was during this time that Marchand managed to find strength. He received a greeting card containing $500 from a client who had lost her home. “If she had this much faith in me,” continues Marchand, “I knew I had to have it in myself.”

Others came to his aid as well and by May 2006, Marchand Ink was back in full swing, returning to the very same complex, but now in a space three times the size of the original. The business also returned to a community that needed insurance papers faxed, access to the Internet, and a place to copy photos of damaged property and possessions. “I knew what people would need,” recalls Marchand. “And I was there for them, just as they were there for me.”

Mike Howard, an Atlanta-based motivational speaker and author of From Ordinary to EXTRAordinary: Success Begins Within (; $19.95), offers advice to help battle adversity.

  • Know that a lack of belief attracts failure. Produce positive results in your life with an empowering mentality.
  • Be solution-conscious. When blindsided by a challenge, focus 90% on the solution and 10% on the problem.
  • Think of an obstacle as a temporary condition. Look at it as an opportunity to learn and move forward.
  • Grow through the problem. Focus on how the situation can strengthen you as a person and a business professional.
  • Can’t find an opportunity? Create one. Get in the habit of constantly taking positive action regardless of the situation.