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Picking up the pieces

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Symbolizing the agony experienced by businesses with offices in the World Trade Center was bond trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald L.P., which lost about 70% of its nearly 1,000 employees working on four of the upper floors of the north tower.

In an interview on ABC-TV last Thursday, Cantor Fitzgerald Chairman-CEO Howard Lutnick expressed the impact the attack had on his business.

"I need to be successful in business so I can take care of 700 families ... 700 families," he said, breaking down in tears.

Lutnick, who ordinarily would have been at work early, said he was not in the office at the time of the attack because he was taking his son to his first day of kindergarten.

In the aftermath of last week’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, executives mourned dead colleagues and recalled the horror, heroism and outpouring of support surrounding the tragedy.

While rescue efforts were still under way in New York and Washington, companies were struggling to account for employees who may have been in the buildings or on aircraft involved in the attacks.

Many marketing and agency personnel had stories to tell about the events of Sept. 11.

At the offices of Saatchi & Saatchi on Hudson Street in lower Manhattan, the agency was about to begin a global meeting for client Procter & Gamble Co. when the first World Trade Center tower was attacked at 8:45 a.m.

Saatchi Managing Partner Tim Love, who was in a conference room preparing for the meeting, hurried to the south side of the building, where huge glass windows faced the tower about a mile away.

"You couldn’t believe it had happened," Love said. "There were people in our building standing there who witnessed the whole thing [including the plane crashing into the second World Trade Center tower]."

The agency shut down its normal business operations Tuesday but offered to let employees stay in the building as a "haven" as long as security permitted. It reopened for business on Thursday.

"We are not going to let this stop our spirit or our business," Love said.

A spokesman for Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos Inc., Boston, said that because the agency has offices in New York, Boston and San Francisco, it typically has people flying on a regular basis aboard American Flight 11, which crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

But last Tuesday, there were no Hill Holliday employees aboard the doomed flight.

However, about a dozen people from Hill Holliday’s Boston office were in lower Manhattan shooting a commercial for client John Hancock Financial Services Inc. when the first tower was hit. The crew members stopped filming and were taken back to Boston in a van.

Offering aid

Hill Holliday, like many other businesses, closed its New York office indefinitely but offered its offices in other cities for those who needed work space.

At agency AnswerThink Inc., New York, a group of employees left work to try to help people at the emergency scene, said Susan Goodman, chief corporate development officer. "Across the company, there has been a massive rush to give blood and help in any way," Goodman said.

AnswerThink kept its offices open last week, although the company encouraged its employees to work from home.

The spirit of reaching out to help others and honor the victims of the attack was the prevailing sentiment last week, even as businesses worked to resume operations.

Corporations including General Electric Co., Cisco Systems Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Sprint pledged money and equipment, while others offered symbolic gestures.

Ad agency NKH&W, Kansas City, Mo., issued an e-mail with a call for all U.S. citizens to stand outside at noon last Friday and sing "God Bless America."

"We as Americans are rightfully incensed at the scenes of destruction in NewYork and Washington. At this time of shock, we are searching for simple ways to link in a show of solidarity," read the e-mail, which NKH&W encouraged recipients to send to friends.

The e-mail ended with the statement, "One voice across the nation, healing as it uplifts."

Somber releases

A number of businesses began issuing somber press releases with news of employees they had lost.

Among those killed was Daniel Lewin, co-founder and chief technology officer of Akamai Technologies Inc., Cambridge, Mass., who was on board American Flight 11.

Also killed was James Hayden, CFO of Netegrity Inc., Waltham, Mass., who was aboard United Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles, which crashed into the south tower of the Trade Center.

Another technology executive killed was Edmund Glazer, VP-finance and CFO of MRV Communications Inc., Chatsworth, Calif. He was on board American Flight 11.

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