How a Thunderstorm Gave Me a Programmer

I began designing a building to build in front of the house office on 309 Henri De Tonti that became 311 Henri De Tonti.  I wanted a place for my employees to gather at break times where they were protected from traffic due to the dangers of being on a heavily trafficked road.  It took me one evening to design the building I could afford.  For maximum space with limited funds, I built a metal building that contained 7,000 square feet.  I reserved 2,000 square feet as an unbuilt space to design later. 

I began the hard work of getting permits, water perc testing, and hiring an architect to redesign what I had already designed.  David and I’s best friend was a contractor named Jonathan so the decision of who to hire as a contractor was simple.

From conception to completion, the building only took a year and a half.  It took ten months to build the building, which was state of the art at the time.   We always called it the “new” building, even years later, when it had become old.

In April 2001, Jonathan finished the new building.  It was 99.999% done when we got hit by a severe spring storm.  Thunder and lightning pounded continuously.  Then it happened: lightning hit the old building with such force that the fireplace was blown apart, the light switch plates flew off the walls across the rooms, and the trim around doors and windows flew throughout the building. The lightning crashed across all the electrical outlets and wires melting them.  The old building was out of commission and could not be used. Fortunately, no one got hurt.

We immediately moved all computers and other equipment, which still worked, into the new building. We were up and running in 30 minutes. 

It took nearly a year of work for the old building to be repaired.  I had to replace all the carpet.  My first estimate for the repair of the fireplace was $18,000!   The second repairman said he would pick up the bricks from the yard and charge me $100 to repair it.  I went with the second repairman and he did a wonderful job.  The worst part of the renovation was a complete replacement of the electrical wiring as all of it had been ruined and melted.  That took the longest.

The most wonderful thing about that lightning strike was that when I talked to the man who was replacing the carpet, he asked if I would interview his young son-in-law, Bo Ramsey.  Bo was twenty at the time, a computer savvy self-taught individual, and I hired him immediately. He has a memory like an elephant and remembers every detail about the most minutiae changes. Under my guidance, Bo wrote software for TRS Healthcare.  It is the best software available in the nurse staffing business and we still use it to this day. Bo continues to work for me as the Director of IT.

Bo is featured in my film, The Unbelievable Plight of Mrs. Wright. Watch the trailer here.

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