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The Calm After the Storm

The Calm After the Storm

Concepts TV meets deadlines in spite of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction

The Calm After the Storm

The sky was orange, and the wind howled. Above toppled power lines, neon splashes of color appeared like misplaced fireworks amid torrents of rain. Pop, pop! There goes another transformer.


More than 8.5 million people lost power in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Homes went unheated, and gas stations couldn’t pump gas. Schools closed, and hospitals were evacuated. Businesses were literally in the dark. Early estimates predict $20 billion in lost business between the structural damage, power outages, and interruptions to business. After Katrina, Sandy will likely be the most costly storm in U.S. history.


Once power was restored, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced, the state would rebuild. But area business owners like Collette Liantonio, CEO of Boonton, N.J.-based Concepts TV, couldn’t wait that long. Deadlines had been set; she didn’t want to disappoint clients in the increasingly just-in-time world of infomercial marketing.


With the company modeled after theater production companies, most of Liantonio’s employees were used to working together closely. After establishing that the team was safe, Liantonio offered her home‚Äîpartially powered by a natural gas generator‚Äîas shelter to her extended Concepts family. Spouses, children, and even nannies were welcome to take advantage of the physical and interpersonal warmth so many suddenly lacked.

After Katrina, Sandy will likely be the most costly storm in U.S. history.

With gasoline in short supply, Liantonio asked only a few employees to meet at the office to assess the damage and brainstorm the next steps for the company. The office was structurally sound, but the power was out indefinitely‚Äîmaking the company’s editing suites , phone lines, and servers inoperable. Documents and company emails were inaccessible.

The company contacted clients using backup, hard-copy contact sheets. Then, work was delegated to the rest of the staff via text message. Creatives in makeshift home offices relied on pen and paper, while administrators focused on logistics. Generators were brought in to power up edit suites. Cell-phone hotspots were created for Wi-Fi access. Battery-powered laptops were set up. And the company conference room was transformed temporarily into a roundtable workstation, similar to a newsroom bullpen.


In one week’s time, most of the Concepts staff was able to return to the office, with multiple Plan Bs in hand. They contacted clients again, this time with revised production schedules, adjusted office hours, and rescheduled shoots. Editing schedules changed, but deadlines did not. And to the surprise and delight of clients across the country, projects stayed on course.


Liantonio credits her staff’s ingenuity, tireless work ethic, and unfaltering teamwork with saving the day. She’s quick to point out that the sense of camaraderie also extends to her clients, who were gracious and understanding. One Wisconsin-based client remarked, ‚“We’re with you for the long haul. If you need anything, let us know.”


As Helen Keller said, ‚“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the Concepts TV family‚Äîstaff, clients, and vendors‚Äîfound out how true those words can be.

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