Worried about possible flooding from Hurricane Sandy, Lancaster, Pa., planner Rick Rodgers spent Monday night at the fortified headquarters of his namesake firm -- a building that looks like a mansion on a Southern plantation.

He was lucky: Aside from modest wind damage, the storm left the structure unscathed. However, even if “The Manor,” as everyone at Rodgers & Associates refers to it, had been destroyed, Rodgers knew he could re-create a temporary office relatively quickly. That’s because of a contract his firm has with a company called Agility Recovery, based in Charlotte, N.C.

“If our office is destroyed completely, they would ship us all we need to be up and running, theoretically within 24 hours,” Rodgers says. “We could recreate the office and download the data to a new server.”

If necessary, Agility would ship out a trailer that would be outfitted with the same number and makes of computers and servers that the firm now uses, along with desks, chairs and other necessary elements for a functioning office, Rodgers says. If it didn’t send a trailer, Agility would lease out space for the firm in vacant commercial real estate nearby, according to Taylor Busby, Agility’s vice president for marketing.

Busby said Tuesday afternoon that 947 clients had already alerted Agility that they might need help. “That means that they are assessing their current situation,” Busby says, “and it gives us the opportunity to pull their records and look at their recovery plans.” 

The firm is in the process of sending out generators to a number of them who are without power.

The company has 31 active recoveries under way already, although not all are related to Hurricane Sandy. In fact, one of the calls came in at 2 a.m. Tuesday, as the storm was flooding the East Coast, from an Agility client in Iowa whose offices were destroyed in an explosion. Another call came in from a client in Hawaii with tsunami damage, Busby says.

“On average we have one [recovery] every other day,” says. “The reality is disasters happen every day.” 

Roughly 2,000 of Agility’s 12,000 small business clients are in the financial services sector, Busby guessed, and maybe 100 of those are financial advisors. The insurance industry accounts for its greatest number of clients: roughly 5,000 small insurance firms.

Formerly a division of GE, Agility focuses on providing comprehensive disaster recovery services to small businesses. Most of its client firms employ 20 to 200 people, but some are one- or two-person shops. All enroll in a membership program called ReadySuite, Busby says, that starts at $495 a month.  

In return the firm helps firms get back up and running in four ways: providing office space and supplies, power, communication (including telephone backup service) and computing and communication services. Because most firms already have sufficient data backup services in place, Agility does not back up data itself -- but it sets up a portal for each client that contains all of its backup service information, Busby says.

The toll of the hurricane -- and the amount of work this will entail for Agility -- remains to be determined. “The reality is that people are just getting back to their locations,” he says.

Back at Rodgers & Associates, all 14 of the firm’s workers had returned to The Manor Tuesday up, from a skeletal staff of three who spent the night there, Rodgers says. They never even had to turn on their generator.

Rodgers expressed hope that other planners had similarly solid recovery plans in place: “Sunday was not the time to be [creating a plan] if it wasn’t in place already.”

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