Two New Orleans Businesses Reopen Three Days After Hurricane Katrina

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Sales360 and Smart Automotive Group fully operational three days after KatrinaÂ?s wrath. Efforts to restore operations and provide for employees and their families bring companies closer together.

Sales360 and the Smart Automotive Group, two of the nation’s leading providers of staffed events and marketing services for automobile dealerships, fully resumed their operations three days after Hurricane Katrina. Sales360 established new temporary headquarters in Baton Rouge.

"We were up and running three days after the hurricane," stated Shawn Burst, President of Sales360. "It is truly miraculous what we have been able to accomplish under such trying circumstances." Sales360 and the Smart Automotive Group are both based in New Orleans.

Burst and his brother Benny, President of the Smart Automotive Group, made the decision to take all means necessary to get their companies back up and running once they knew that all of their employees and families were safe. "When you factor in all of our staff, customers and their families, over 500 people rely on us for their livelihood," said Burst. "We understood the magnitude of that responsibility and knew we had to do everything possible to provide a sense of security and stability for people who in many cases lost everything they owned."

To that end, Burst and his brother spent countless hours negotiating the military checkpoints and impassable terrain inside the city. At several points, the brothers were forced to swim among alligators and water moccasins in drainage canals to reach their inundated offices to obtain vital data and paperwork. The brothers also took other drastic measures including outfitting their IT staff with bulletproof vests so they could safely enter the French Quarter to repair their internet access. “We wanted to be among the first people in New Orleans to have power and internet access restored, and we were,” Burst said.

The company also went to great expense to provide temporary housing for many of its employees. Within 72 hours after the storm, Burst had rented three houses in Baton Rouge and relocated Sales360's entire production department and their families there. "This has been the single greatest challenge in all of our lives, however through this tremendous tragedy our company has truly come together to become a family. I am proud of our team as everyone was, and still is, more focused on helping others than themselves," Burst said.

For that reason, Sales360 has established a relief fund and will donate a portion of the proceeds from its staffed events for the entire year to help those most affected by the storm.

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Mike Paine
Sales 360
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