August 2015 IT Business Consulting Newsletter

The Brindley Beach Fire - Insights and Observations

By Tom K

At 7 PM on Friday, June 12th, Brindley Beach's headquarters burned to the ground. Doug Brindley and I will present a detailed session at VRMA to walk you through how everyone worked together to check in over 500 houses on Saturday and Sunday with no resources, and how we restored the entire business in 16 days.

In this month's newsletter, I highlight key insights and observations that left deep impressions while I was working with the Brindley Beach Family to overcome this disaster. It is a quick, but valuable, read.


It really is all about the People. Leadership, loyalty, tears, determination, compassion, relationships, finding that extra bit of energy when the tank has long been emptied... Everyone involved provided immense and essential contributions to both the immediate recovery and the rebuilding effort.

The Brindley Beach Family

It's all about the People!

It was amazing to watch management and staff come together Saturday morning, to watch the faces shift through the day from shock and despair to determination to accomplishment. "Loyalty" is a frightful understatement. "Team" doesn't nearly describe it. The leadership team, who had just lost EVERYTHING, shook it off, and managed, motivated, and mobilized all available resources to excellence. The staff dug in and got it done with what they had (not much), and found ways to get what they had to have.

At the end of Saturday, the assembled group was dirty, sweaty, exhausted, and elated at their accomplishment... almost 400 check-ins without packets, keys, computers, PM software, or their main office. Amazing!

EVERYONE did a stellar job. End of day cocktails were offered, but everyone declined. They were completely spent, and they had to do it all over again on Sunday.

The Community

It's still all about the People!

The VRM industry in the Outer Banks is tremendously competitive, much more so than anywhere else I've operated. But it is an interesting competitiveness, with little underhandedness, and lots of mutual respect. On Saturday morning, Brindley didn't get a bunch of "if you need anything" calls from the community, they got offers of equipment, computers, and vans... from competitors. One of the more debilitating issues was locks on homes, or actually no keys for the locks. VRM companies up and down the beach dropped off their existing stock of lock sets so Brindley's maintenance staff could refit locks to the houses they had to break into to admit guests.

We worked very hard, but we ate very well! The deliveries of food, water, tea, juice, and even beers were donated by the community and our competitors throughout this most difficult of times. I do hope we adequately expressed just how deeply their kindness was appreciated by all!

Our Partners

It is all about the People... and Relationships!

That (Friday) night I started calling our technology partners to advise them of the disaster and to start planning emergency operations and a structured recovery. Everyone stepped up and worked all weekend to get Brindley's core infrastructure running by Sunday morning (albeit in emergency mode using lots of duct tape and chicken wire :) More systems and services were up by Sunday night. This couldn't have happened without the long hours and super talents of my friends and long time associates at Prop Plus support (HomeAway) and LSI (Local Social).

My forever Dell team was also fantastic. They worked above and beyond to expedite our needs. The 30+ new computers, monitors, switches, and printers started arriving on Wed. They were able to get us new servers in just under 2 weeks. Everything shipped next day or second day courtesy of my Dell team.

With the help of many, we had the complete environment restored in 16 days. This involved not only rebuilding the whole server infrastructure, configuring switches and firewalls, and rolling out 30+ PCs across 5 offices, but also re-fitting the Duck facility to become the new Headquarters, establishing a new data center in the Duck office, setting up a new remote office for Maintenance & Accounting, and re-locating lots of staff across the other remote offices. Whew!

The Backups

Well, maybe it's not completely all about the People...

Simply put, without the excellent backup systems we had in place, Brindley Beach might not have been able to recover. Certainly not to the degree that we recovered, nor within the timeframe.

The fire started around 7 PM on Friday. Because we had a good multi-layered backup process in place, we were able to get the critical data from the cloud backups to bring our Property Management System live Sunday morning. Then we were able to use our system backups to restore EVERYTHING to Friday's start of business once we had the new servers on line.

If you don't have a proven backup strategy in place, you really need to consider resolving this immediately. If you are not sure how to start, call me. I can help!

Company Stuff

Again, maybe it's not completely All about the People...

I never really appreciated the phrase "burned to the ground" until I saw it. We'll have a few pictures at the VRMA session. NOTHING was left, except a lonely chimney standing tall.

The phrase "Its only stuff... no one was hurt" kept being bantered about. While all that we lost was "just" stuff, much of it was "important stuff".

Take a walk through your offices. Observe all your company stuff. What could you not do without? What would be painful to lose? Determine how you can archive that stuff, or prepare to replace the stuff you can't archive. Is any of that paper stuff in those filing cabinets important? Hire a clerk to scan it so it gets electronically backed up. Do you have records (not in those filing cabinets) of all the stuff you'll want your insurance to replace? Do you have replacement insurance? Do you have documented inventories and receipts? Hmmmm...

Personal Stuff

Everybody has some personal stuff in their office. If it is important to you, or if it has value, you need to replicate it or document it. Make a copy of that signed photo of you and John Lennon and document that signed Terry Bradshaw jersey.

If you'll be at VRMA in New Orleans, come join Doug and me for our session. We'll get in-depth on the specifics of how the Brindley Beach Family was able to populate 400 properties the day after losing EVERYTHING (the amazing part), and how we restructured, relocated, and rebuilt the company in 16 days. It's an intriguing tale.

If you have any questions or thoughts concerning this article, or need help ensuring you are prepared for a similar company-crushing disaster, please contact me at, or via my cell 443.310.5110.

Next month in "Business Relations Risk Assessments", I'll discuss evaluating the operational and financial health of your key Business Partners, and the impact a breakdown in their services or their overall demise could have on your operations.