Aspen Square Management – Disaster Preparedness

When a F-5 tornado struck ASM headquarters, Accounting could have fallen into shambles but instead, there was barely an interruption in operations.


In 2011, a violent tornado struck West Springfield without warning. ASM’s HQ sits downtown on the top floor of a 150-year-old three-story brick building. “I looked outside and was amazed at how dark it was at four in the afternoon. The winds grew in intensity and you could feel the pressure in your ears and then, the train sound.” recalls Beauregard. “When you hear ‘the train,’ it’s too late to do anything but move away from the windows and cover your face.” She watched as the building across the street lifted off its foundation and was pulled upward towards the sky. “Transformers were blowing up on Union Street one after the other like a string of fireworks. We kept hearing loud bangs over and over again. We later realized that those bangs were our cars in our parking lot being lifted up in to the air and then dropped. “It was the worst storm the area had ever recorded. The city lost all power and many buildings were heavily damaged.

FEMA reported $140+ million in damages and for ASM, more than $1.5 million was claimed by employees for the 60+ vehicles destroyed. The cost to the company was more than half a million dollars to account for lost employee time and damaged office equipment. “After two days, the power company and building inspector told us it was safe to go back in to retrieve what we needed.”

“Watching how two very disruptive events affected different departments within our company has been a real eyeopener.”


The DocLink Difference

Beauregard recalls the different challenges each department had in selecting what assets needed to be moved. “For Accounting, we focused on check stock, computers and monitors, and that was it. We had been scanning to DocLink for years so we didn’t have any paper files or metal file cabinets to worry about.”

The same could not be said for the Legal Department. “Heavy debris had come through windows. There were computer monitors impaled with wood. A rock had come through and slammed against a legal file cabinet, damaging it to the point where it wouldn’t open. The legal staff had to use a hacksaw to get to their paper files. Seeing that, I was so grateful to have invested in DocLink.”

ASM had a disaster recovery plan with emergency generators, daily backups of critical data, and business documents archived in DocLink at an alternative office location about 20 miles from West Springfield. “When we purchased DocLink back in 2002, we created a long list of reasons why we needed to buy this solution. Surviving a F-5 tornado was NOT one of them,” joked Beauregard. But as it turns out, business continuity was another reason ASM was glad to have made the decision to eliminate paper from their department.

Beauregard and her management team set up a skeleton crew at the disaster recovery site to keep the business in business. Because of backup generators, server backups, and DocLink, ASM was able to support the 100+ remote offices without any interruption to service. “In fact, many of our offices weren’t initially aware that we had this catastrophe,” confessed Beauregard. They continued to scan their documents and transfer them to the servers at HQ for processing as if nothing had happened.

Over the following two weeks, the team worked from the disaster recovery office and processed bills and payroll checks for its vendors and employees. With 9+ years of history safely stored in DocLink, they were able to access historical documents too. After two weeks, the employees were cleared to return to the office.

In the aftermath of the storm, the Legal Department realized how much of their department’s information had been destroyed that day. It took them months to recreated documents and files while their colleagues in Finance were able to resume their normal working schedule. Later that year, West Springfield experienced another hit – a huge snowstorm cutting off power for five days. ASM’s well-designed disaster recovery plan was leveraged once again and again, DocLink shined.