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Fire can't stop this Burbank business

Owner struggles to maintain operations after a devastating blaze.

June 01, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com
  • Richard Raad, the president of Beauty-Kiss Floor & Window Coverings, works at the kitchen table of his home with a partially burned name plate. His Burbank business burned over Memorial Day weekend, requiring him to turn his home into an office for as many as 30 employees during his temporary relocation on Thursday, May 30, 2013.
Richard Raad, the president of Beauty-Kiss Floor &… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

Richard Raad was running on the treadmill when he heard the news, and for a split second, he thought it was a bad joke.

When he realized the call was no joke, Raad raced to his car and drove down to the carpet and flooring business he's had for decades

He found it engulfed in flames.

Decades worth of contacts, lost. Thousands of floor plans, gone. A brand new showroom, destroyed. Just one of six office computers was salvageable.

PHOTOS: Beauty-Kiss Floor & Window Coverings recovers from fire with home business

The fire that tore through Beauty-Kiss Floor and Window Coverings in Burbank on Memorial Day would ultimately cause an estimated $1 million in damage.

"It's devastating," said Raad, who took over the 63-year-old family business in 1976. "One day you have a business with employees, and the next day you've got a pile of rubble."

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It's at this point in the story where most business owners who suffer a near-complete loss would shut down, jobs would be lost, and a long road through insurance claims and recovery might begin.

But not for Raad.

By the next morning, his own Burbank home had become base of operations for his business of 30 employees.

Raad planted camping tables from his motor home in the room where his dogs usually sleep and armed two of his employees with his kids' laptops.

Adrenaline pulsed through his hillside digs Thursday morning, with about a dozen workers manning the phones, loading and unloading trucks and recreating contact lists and floor plans.

Piles of carpet, tile and wood flooring samples were stacked neatly in one corner. Paperwork and invoices were scattered next to the kitchen sink, on which a sticky-note read, "Do not use."

And on the dining-room table, Raad set up a brand new desktop computer and printer.

"Everything's new," said Beauty-Kiss employee Bridget Melloy. "Rulers, pencils, pens, paper, paperclips, notebooks, binders — we didn't even have pens to write with."

Restocking didn't just include office supplies. Carpets and materials that were lost in the blaze — some of it slated for installation this week — also had to be replaced.

"Anything you can think of, we didn't have," Raad said, while fielding phone calls from clients and vendors. "It's financially really ugly, but what do you do? We have nothing."

Whatever was recovered from the fire — wet, crumpled files and charred binders — was stuffed in plastic bags and stacked next to the family's dog kennels in the backyard.

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