On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City and caused tremendous damage to the coastal areas of the city including a huge storm surge which flooded Long Island and Lower Manhattan. At the time, Michael Ferranti had offices in the South Street Seaport and lived in his home Long Beach. Both his home and office premises were destroyed by the storm, rendering his business without a base of operations, and his family essentially homeless.

The consequences to his business were significant. He temporarily regrouped his team in a forum mate’s board room until power was restored but was soon forced to transition his 18 staff members to working remotely. Within the next few days he lost the most senior member of his leadership team (the head of sales), his only other productive sales person, and his largest and most profitable customer (which represented a seven-figure account). In the following months, that client strategically refused to pay a high 6-figure receivable causing a cash crunch in the business, and Michael found himself in a legal battle with the private equity firm that owned them. In addition, Michael found himself in other disputes with his landlord who insisted he continue to pay rent even though he could not enter the business premises; and with his insurance company which denied Michael’s business interruption claim. While all this was happening, the company’s revenue dropped 25%.

The impact on his family was equally significant. The schools of both his two young children were permanently damaged, forcing them to move to a new school, a process which would prove traumatic for them. The family home was uninhabitable and Michael moved his family into different apartments three times in the next 12 months. His flood insurance company refused to pay anything on his claim for 12 months and the process of repairing the damage during the recovery effort soon became bogged down in red tape. The family was forced to move another 4 times in the next two years, totally 7 times in 3 years.

Faced with an avalanche of unforeseen expenses; significant disruption to his business operations, staff, and customers; ongoing battles with several parties; no permanent residence; deep uncertainty over the cost and timeframe for restoring his home; and immense personal pressure on his family, Michael was faced with the challenge of making decisions necessary to keep his family safe and his business intact.

With a tenacious focus on the bigger picture, Michael made decisions to overcome the losses and restore stability to his family and business. According to his nominator, “Michael kept moving forward through the uncertainty to make the right decisions and keep it all together. There’s a reason they call him Iron Mike. He just kept moving forward, even though he didn’t know how things were going to work out”.

In particular, Michael observed that property prices in Long Beach were depressed and saw the opportunity to purchase an empty lot at a deep discount, even though the future of the area was unclear. The area looked like a disaster zone and the property he purchased had both flooded and burned. He bought the property even though most people thought the neighborhood would not be redeveloped. He then ordered a modular home to put on the property and his family lived there for the last 18 months until his home was repaired, 5 years after the storm. That property is now a cash-flow positive investment.

Michael also converted the adversity into opportunity. Throughout the crisis made a number of decisions to shift the direction of the company, and continued to invest in a software project that represented a larger growth opportunity for the company. The company achieved pre-Sandy revenue by 2014, and in Q1 2017, the new software contributed 25% total revenue with 80% margins.

Michael has distinguished himself with exemplary resilience to overcome the catastrophic circumstances of hurricane Sandy, and not only recovered from the losses against seemingly insurmountable odds, but improved the situation for his family and business in the following years.