A local firm rebuilds from ground zero

Reconstructing: Baltimore's May Davis is literally piecing itself together after losing its World Trade Center offices.

September 30, 2001|By Bill Atkinson

It could have been so much worse for May Davis Group Inc.

The Baltimore investment banking firm initially feared nearly all its 52 employees on the 87th floor of 1 World Trade Center had been killed. As it turned out, May Davis lost one.

Now the company is trying to pull itself together in a temporary office at 120 Broadway, a short walk from the mound of rubble called ground zero.

The job is daunting. Files are gone, phone systems don't work, some business has vanished and some employees are too afraid to come back to work.

"Some of them are having survivor's guilt," said Kevin Davis, who founded the firm with his partner, Owen May. He described one employee as a "nervous wreck," and wondered whether another would ever come back.

"She keeps saying, `I'm not ready, I'm not ready,'" Davis said.

Recovering files is another problem. May Davis recently moved reams of documents to New York for an audit.

When the planes struck the towers, the force blew documents out of the buildings, showering the streets and rooftops with memos, paychecks and reports.

May Davis' in-house counsel received a call from someone in Brooklyn who found the attorney's check in his back yard about 10 miles away.

The firm had backup files in Baltimore, but stock certificates and regulatory documents will have to be re-created.

Davis, who works out of the firm's Baltimore office, is confident that the business will get back on its feet. It has filed a "sizable claim" with its insurance company. He declined to reveal the amount.

"We have been told by our agent that the insurance company will do the right thing," Davis said.

Clients have been "very understanding and willing to help us out," Davis said. "They want to do business with us. They have made a commitment to increase their business with us. We will get through it."

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