During its 30-year history, Mars Advertising Group, a 250-person business specializing in brand marketing for consumer-packaged-goods companies, had endured its share of surprises.
But Bill Davidson, Mars CIO, was not ready for the phone call he got on the morning of Feb. 20, when he learned that Mars corporate headquarters, in Southfield, Mich., had been destroyed by fire and heavy smoke.
"My CFO [chief financial officer] called me when I was commuting in. She said it was pretty bad, and the building was already gutted," said Davidson. "It was pretty much a total internal fire at our home office in an overnight period. The bricks are left standing and not much else."
Even as fire department personnel were snuffing out the blaze—believed to have been caused by an electrical problem—Davidson was pulling aside fellow Mars executives appearing on the scene. The group huddled into action not far from the smoldering ruins with a determination to keep the business running smoothly despite the hardware and data loss.
"We had to pretty much build from the ground up, and it was basically, Lets go and get started right now," said Davidson. "We sat down in an adjacent building and started a plan for what we were going to do. It involved finding a space to go to, contacting CDW [Corp.] and knowing what core equipment we had to replace and get that sent right away."
The group found new office space just down the street from the destroyed headquarters, and as for the data and equipment, turning to CDW, the companys technology supplier, was a no-brainer. The Vernon Hills, Ill., distributor offers a wide range of products and accompanying services from companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp. of America and Toshiba America Inc.