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Business Burned Out Last Year, Reopens Doors

Business Burned Out Last Year, Reopens Doors

Posted - Nov. 10, 2003 at 2:56 p.m.



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Jed Boal ReportingA man burned out of his business last winter has opened the doors again after very tough times. He says he lost it all, but never truly lost his drive to survive.

Business Burned Out Last Year, Reopens Doors

It started as billows of smoke, not much of a threat at first. It erupted into Salt Lake's largest fire in recent memory. Bart Johnson spotted the first flames as they roared through the roof and ripped through the strip mall on South Temple. Johnson's business, Shipping Express was wiped out.

Bart Johnson, Mail Express: “Completely to the ground...absolutely everything. We didn't salvage a box, we didn't salvage an envelope."

Business Burned Out Last Year, Reopens Doors

His client base went up in flames, but he's battled back. He re-opened in a new location three blocks from where he did business for 20 years. At first he felt anger, denial and doubt, but eventually came to grips with it.

Bart Johnson: "We had become part of the landscape and history of salt lake city. 20 years, we want to be here 20 more."

Business Burned Out Last Year, Reopens Doors

Johnson has spent a good deal of time the past seven months looking for the silver linings in this whole experience. One of them? He has twice the space now and has combined his wholesale packaging business with his mailing business.

Johnson lost nearly one million dollars, but kept his employees on the payroll with loans and savings. Now he's back in the black.

Bart Johnson, Mail Express: “It is unheard of, but we reached the break-even point last week, just a matter of days after opening."

Employees sifted through the ashes, salvaged any addresses they could and started to rebuild the customer base one letter at a time.

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