Twenty years ago, Richard Arnold saw a need in the disaster recovery industry and set about to fill it.
Arnold knew a lot more about computers than he did publishing, but he still wanted to start a magazine about disaster recovery planning. The year was 1987 and it was an early time in the business continuity industry.
"I felt it would be good to have a presence in the field," said Arnold. "There was not a magazine out there that could provide people with information on disaster recovery."
Arnold was working as a computer programmer at the time. While visiting numerous companies, he saw there was a great need for information on protecting organizations. Only about 10 percent of companies backed up their data or made other provisions to keep their business data safe.
In the 1980s, the disaster recovery field was still data center oriented, said Arnold. And, today, the data center is still very important, although the industry has expanded into corporate-wide resilience and recovery.
"Now more than ever before, everything is coming through the data center," said Arnold. "It is important to protect the whole company, but we must not forget the basics of DR."
Those basics are something that Arnold used as a foundation to launch the premier magazine for disaster recovery. Disaster Recovery Journal made its debut in January 1988, though 1987 was spent assembling the articles and editorials for the magazine. Arnold incorporated the parent company of DRJ in 1987 as well.
He assembled the first magazine using a word processing program on a rented computer. The first advertisers were AT&T, Centerre Safe Deposit, Disaster Recovery Consultants, Hotsite, Provident Recovery Systems, and Target Marketing. Several early pioneers in the industry, including Marvin Davis and Pat Nolen, submitted articles for the first edition.
Arnold said having contributing authors was one of the strong points of the magazine. It is a trend that DRJ remains committed to today.
The first edition was 29 pages, and 3,600 magazines were printed. Since there were only six advertisers, most of the cost was funded by Arnold. It was an investment he was willing to make. Looking back, he said he could see how others may have questioned his decision. But he is glad that he remained determined and had that early vision.
Through it all, Arnold received great support from his family, including his wife Sharon, who remains very active in the business. His children, including current DRJ vice president Bob Arnold, who has been involved with the business for 15 years, also played integral roles in the success of DRJ. Jay Bender and Rich Sandofer were also instrumental in getting the magazine off the ground during its early years. Conference Registrar Mercedes Knese has been with the company since inception.
Arnold, his family, and friends mailed the first edition of the magazine out to numerous people in the industry. Since there was no subscription base at that time, Arnold relied on his previous experience in the DR industry to find persons interested in receiving the Journal.
In the early years of the magazine, disaster recovery/business continuity was barely recognized as a function by risk management, emergency managers, and many members of management.
Not one to sit idle after the magazine became established, Arnold decided industry conferences were needed.
"I thought it was an industry need," he said. "When the magazine started, the DR industry was still in its early stages. I felt that conferences could help educate people and help the industry grow."
The first conference was held in Atlanta, Ga., and attracted 300 people. Despite some early problems with the conference venue, the event was a success. Arnold turned those early problems into learning experiences and vowed to continue to improve each successive conference.
The next seminar was scheduled for the spring of 1990 in Palm Springs, Calif. And a tradition began. DRJ began hosting conferences every six months, alternating from east to west coast venues. Today, these seminars are based on the most experience in the industry and attract the largest gathering of planning professionals.
Also, during this time, Arnold was one of the key founders of the Disaster Recovery Institute. This firm was responsible for the first certification program for contingency planners. Under his leadership and that of the DRI Certification Board, DRI eventually evolved into its own entity. Today, DRI International is independent of DRJ, but still harbors the same strong values instilled in it from the early days.
In April 1990, a tragedy struck Arnold that could have brought DRJ and the conferences to an early end. A massive stroke sent Arnold to the hospital for weeks and later into a long rehabilitation program. While doctors predicted he would never walk or talk again, Arnold set about proving them wrong. Using the same tenacity that helped him get the magazine going, he was determined to get back to business.
By September of that year, he was back at work full-time, bubbling with more ideas of how to help the industry grow. Though his speech was affected and his walking was impaired, he never believed in the words "you can’t." Instead, he had a strong belief in his abilities and an even stronger need to continue to reach out to the disaster recovery community. Reference books were published, a Web site was launched, videos were produced, and the conferences continued to grow at an astonishing rate.
The magazine celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1997. DRJ kicked off the 1998 conference with the first mock disaster exercise, sponsored by Comdisco Disaster Recovery Services.
Now, it is 15 years later and the magazine continues to hold the leading spot in the industry. It has grown from a meager 29 pages to more than 100 pages, packed with informative articles, industry surveys, and columns from some of the industry’s strongest contributors. Advertisers make a strong presence in each edition and are instrumental in keeping DRJ as a no-cost publication to its readers. Currently, there are 65,000 subscribers worldwide.
The conferences remain an industry standard that has helped educate tens of thousands over the years. Loyal attendees from the early years continue to return to the seminars, proving that the contingency planning industry has a strong foundation of people who are willing to continue their growth and share their knowledge. Newcomers make up a large percentage of attendees, giving the industry an ever-evolving growth.
As for the future of DRJ, Arnold sees no end in sight. Despite the rising costs in printing, he is determined to keep the Journal a free publication to qualified subscribers.
"I have kept it free because it is a necessary tool for people in our industry," he said. Arnold is also proud of the fact that conference fees have remained minimal throughout the years. In fact, the initial attendance fee remained the same for more than a decade.
He is also happy that DRJ has remained a family business. His wife, Sharon, continues to provide input into every decision and his son, Bob, has taken the helm in many of the day-to-day operations. He has a loyal staff, most of which have been with the firm for 10 or more years, and has many industry friends who can be called upon to support DRJ at any time.
Most of all, Arnold is proud of the growth in the industry. He feels that awareness will continue to rise and companies will continue to implement plans to protect their organizations. He cautions that as the industry grows, the terminology may become cluttered with acronyms and terminology. But planners need to remain focused on that first basic principal that caught Arnold’s eye – the need to fully protect an organization and keep it running no matter what.
Arnold has lived under the motto of "staying in business" and he will continue to promote that philosophy in the industry through his magazine, his conferences, his Web site, BCP Media, and any other avenue he may decide to pursue in the future. If the industry has a need, he will find a way to fill it.
Janette Ballman, senior editor of the Disaster Recovery Journal, has written numerous articles covering business continuity and disaster recovery topics over the past 15 years. Ballman holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has been published in a variety of newspapers, magazines and other medium.
"Appeared in DRJ's Winter 2007 Issue"