How 9/11 Changed The Lives And Businesses Of New York VARs

By Scott Campbell, CRN

It’s been 10 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a period that seems like it was both yesterday and long ago for many New Yorkers.

Every day in the city there are reminders of the tragedy – “In Memoriam” car window stickers, the rising Freedom Tower near Ground Zero, and the birthdays and anniversaries of friends and family members never celebrated the same way for the 2,000-plus people who died that day.

Here are the stories of three New York solution providers and how those tragic events saw their lives and their businesses change forever.


Carl Mazzanti was in the subway beneath the World Trade Center’s north tower when the first plane hit, more than 90 floors above.

Mazzanti and his then-business partner and now-wife Jennifer Shine were set to attend a product meeting with Quantum and Ingram Micro (NYSE:IM) on the 78th floor of the north tower. Of course, they never made it. After the plane hit, the pair quickly left the building amid falling debris and made their way north, not yet able to understand what had happened.

Jennifer and Carl Mazzanti

Mazzanti and Shine had opened their solution provider business, eMazzanti, less than two weeks before September 11, ensuring that the company’s history will always be tied to the attacks .

“We started with a handful of customers and wild dreams of great grandeur. That day, all that changed,” said Mazzanti. “We continued and are doing great. We’re holding our 10th anniversary party on Sept. 15. But it seems like a long time ago.

“When the first plane hit, some alarms went off. I couldn’t believe how many security people all ran up the escalators. Everyone was trying to figure out what was happening. When we walked outside we saw a bus crushed, a New York City bus just flattened. Jennifer noticed there were no people at the moment to our left. She said we have to go the other way. She had noticed debris still falling in that area. On the other corner, people were mingling around. That’s the way we ran.”

Shine went to the office of one new client, while Mazzanti made his way north to another client just coming to prominence — Kate Spade, which at the time had less than 15 employees, Mazzanti said, and is still a client 10 years later.

“I was in Tribeca when the second tower went. The building where we were was brick and at the desk a red mist filled the area. We lost lights and the Internet. I remember finally getting back into Hoboken and having washing stations to rinse off your body. It was like a hazmat station and you could tell people who were close to the [towers] because their hair was covered with concrete,” he said.

Thrust into the worst possible circumstances, Mazzanti said he learned overnight that customers responded to value and the ability to solve their problems. That soon became the company’s philosophy and it made them strong during a difficult time

“When we started, we learned how to eat every meal for around $1. Ramen noodles were 13 cents per meal. Gray’s Papaya had a drink and two hot dog special,” he said. “We had almost nothing left to our name. We spent everything we had on getting our name out and getting our Web site up and all the stuff we think is really important. I remember having $300 left to our name and we were trying to decide whether to buy food or business cards. We bought the business cards.

“Because of that day, we learned we were not going to sell sales force automation or other high end customer solutions. We started selling network infrastructure because it had a very short sales time.”

With a strong focus on networking, security and business continuity, eMazzanti has earned many awards from vendors over the last 10 years and Carl and Jennifer married in 2007.

Last May, when SNC Squared, a Joplin, Mo.-based VAR, had its headquarters demolished by a tornado, eMazzanti helped the VAR get its e-mail back within 90 minutes on its hosted platform.

“Even during Hurricane Irene, we responded very quickly. We got a communication out to customers. We had engineers on staff calling people to help with preparations and had people in the field with what we considered high-risk accounts. We had 100 percent of our customers up and running come Monday after the hurricane,” he said. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Micro Strategies

“If you’re of a certain age, the day Kennedy was shot you remember where you were. This was like that,” said James Veraldi, executive vice president at Micro Strategies, a Denville, N.J.-based solution provider.

Veraldi was in a Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) Server 2000 certification class on Sept. 11, 2001 ouitside of Manhattan when he learned a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Everyone in the class went to the lobby to watch TV, where he saw the second plane hit the south tower, Veraldi said.

“I called home. I called the office. We have people in the city almost every day of the week,” Veraldi said. “That day, luckily we only had three people in the city and only one was close to the World Trade Center. He was able to get out but not until that night.”

Veraldi’s thoughts were also with his brother-in-law, a New York Police Department veteran and first responder. “He would just walk into a disaster and didn’t care. I finally got through to him about 9 p.m. that night. At least I knew he was OK.”

To say, the events of Sept. 11 brought New Yorkers a new perspective is an understatement, said Veraldi.

“What happens with these tragedies, and it’s indicative with [Hurricane] Irene too, is the closer you are on something, the bigger the impact it has. For the New York metro area, businesses and IT providers, September 11 had a huge impact. We all are within a connection of someone that perished, someone who lost a sibling, an uncle, a parent. There’s a huge void out there

“Every day we tried to walk back into the building. It took about two weeks then they allowed us in for 20 minutes,” he said. “We assembled a whole team and created a plan for how all of us would go into different rooms and pick the most essential stuff. What an operation. It was raining and we had dollies and carts with servers on them,” he said. “We had a hard time recovering. We couldn’t forward the phones. We lost a lot of business. You think when it hits you, I can recoup from that. But it’s not the hit, it’s the later on that’s hard. It takes a while to realize all the things you’ve lost.”

Ben-Reuven said he learned not to take even the most basic technology requirements for granted after that.

“Today, we run IT from a data center. In the offices, we just have desktops. Anything we need is remote. Redundancy is extremely important. Our niche is the hedge fund industry. It’s very highly regulated and business continuity and disaster recover are very important. We now are very extremely well versed an all that and everything that needs to be redundant.”

Ben-Reuven says he’s tried to learn from the events of September 11 and to make his business stronger.

“Other things we learned are documentation to all the vendors. That disaster was monumental but you’re resilient and you pick up things and move on. Many businesses did not. We were lucky, but we almost failed. A year and a half later, we were struggling pretty hard. Somehow we worked out the kinks.

“Am I better prepared today? Yes. If we didn’t go through that, disasters wouldn’t look the same. We’ve been here through hurricanes in Florida [Chelsea has an office in Hallandale, Fla.], but terrorist attacks are more harsh than nature. With hurricanes, you see it coming. You know how to move around. Something like this hits you from left field.”

Every year on September 11, the events come back fresh in Ben-Reuven’s mind.

“During the year, you don’t really think about it,” he says. “We returned back to the same office. We’re in exactly the same location that we were 10 years ago. The same floor, the same room, the same everything. You can see how the new buildings coming up. It’s different. But there’s always a reminder, hey, you were supposed to be there. You give thanks that you’re alive.”

Carl Mazzanti is Co-Founder and President of eMazzanti Technologies, Microsoft’s four time Partner of the Year and one of the premier IT consulting services for businesses throughout the New York metropolitan area and internationally. Carl and his company manage over 400 active accounts ranging from professional services firms to high-end global retailers.

eMazzanti is all about delivering powerful, efficient outsourced IT services, such as computer network management and troubleshooting, managed print, PCI DSS compliance, green computing, mobile workforce technology, information security, cloud computing, and business continuity and disaster recovery.  

Carl Mazzanti is also a frequent business conference speaker and technology talk show guest and contributor at Microsoft-focused events, including frequent prominent roles at the Microsoft Inspire (Worldwide Partner Conference / WPC).

Carl, a serial Entrepreneur, gives back to the community through Entrepreneur teaching engagements at Georgetown University, the company’s ocean wildlife conservation effort, the Blue Project, and Tree Mazzanti.



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