07_Damon Gersh

Rise to the Occasion

September 11 brought out the best in countless New Yorkers–including the people of Maxons Restorations. The company was stretched as it worked to restore the historic Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel for services and cleaned more than 50 office buildings.


Damon Gersh
President and CEO, Maxons Restorations Inc.
New York, New York


Describe one or more of your core leadership principles.
My role as leader is to foster leadership at all levels within my organization by reinforcing our core values of creativity, commitment and caring. We attract and retain exceptional people who exemplify these strong values by caring about them as individuals. By providing focus, direction and clarity of vision, we foster a fertile environment for individuals to rise to their fullest potential.

Show us your leadership in action: a decision that you made, a situation in which you led and that put your principles to the test.
As NYC’s largest disaster restoration organization, the tragic events of 9-11-01 presented a series of unprecedented challenges to our organization. I knew the massive clean-up would be a true team effort. By providing focus, direction and opportunity for innovation, our staff was able to rise to the occasion. The day after the attacks, I led a meeting with our entire staff and, after a moment of silence, key people were given a critical role in the recovery effort. Vital tasks were delegated, creative problem-solving was encouraged and the result was a tremendous synergy among my staff, my clients, and outside agencies.

Describe the biggest obstacle you were up against.
We were forced to confront and overcome the unknown every day so that we could provide caring service to fellow citizens traumatized by these events. Obstacles included the emotional and physical toll on our staff working around the clock; amassing the manpower and materials to handle the onslaught of calls for emergency service; bank financing; gaining access to the militarized downtown area; dealing with the media onslaught, etc. There was nothing familiar about our workdays, and it affected us all deeply.

Document the results of your leadership style.
By encouraging leadership at all levels within our organization we were able to coalesce and help thousands of people and businesses recover from this unfathomable disaster. We restored the historic Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel for services, cleaned over 50 office buildings so people could return to work, helped many shops and restaurants place “Open” signs in their windows and restored thousands of apartments so people could return home. In the face of tragedy, our company is able to take pride in providing an important, caring service at a time when people needed it most.