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Prima Music Escapes Disaster

On April 28, Prima Music became a near-casualty of the tornadoes tearing through the southern United States.

Bobby Mitchell, owner of the Brooks, Ga., online print music dealership, hunkered down with his family in their basement as the storm broke. Watching the news, he realized a tornado touched down near his company's warehouse and offices.

"After the storms passed, we drove to the warehouse around 2 a.m. to see if there was any damage," he said. "The way that we normally drive to the warehouse did not show significant damage, so we did not even realize that there were many local residents who were digging out their collapsed homes only a few miles away."

In fact, two people had been killed by the tornado a quarter-mile from Prima Music's facility, which didn't sustain any damage. Still, the company closed for two days and suffered several more without electricity or communications. No employees were harmed.

In the following days, Prima's employees helped with disaster recovery, bringing food and water to the hardest-hit areas. Mitchell's oldest daughter, Katy, a firefighter and EMT, was even in charge of volunteer activities for the entire county.

"For some of the citizens, our employees were the first people that they had seen [since the tornado]," Mitchell said.

Disaster Plan Upgrade
The April tornado served as a much-needed wake-up call for Mitchell. "As a management consultant for many years, I preached regularly to Fortune 500 executives about the need to have a disaster recovery plan," he said. "After this near miss, I realize that I am not following my own advice very well."

He acknowledged that he has adequately planned for technology- and data-related issues but said he's underprepared for physical damage to his facilities.

"In the coming weeks, I am going to reach out to other retailers to see how we can help each other in the event of a natural disaster. While our physical assets are insured, we need a better plan to make sure our customers' needs are met in case our operations are down for an extended period of time."