Ice storms in the Northeast usually mean a power outage of several hours, but this time was different. Six days after losing power in the devastating January ice storm that paralyzed much of northern New England and Canada, Holmes Distributors, Inc., Portland, Maine, still could not conduct business. Not only was the company's Portland facility knocked out by the storm, but also its branches in Bangor, Scarborough and Manchester, N.H. Even after bringing in a 9,000W generator and a 50 Kw generator, business operations were at a standstill because IBM told them that they could not operate their RS 6000 mainframe computer off these generators and their current UPS unit without voiding several valuable warranties. Their outdated UPS system lacked the capability to protect the mainframe from "dirty" generator power, so Holmes remained shut down.

Holmes' Executive Vice President Gary DeVost decided to put in a call to Sola/Hevi-Duty, Cheshire, Conn. He explained the problem to Sola's national training manager, Jerry Martin, who told DeVost he could solve the problem. Martin loaded a 90-lb Sola S4300 3 KVA On-Line UPS in his car and drove two hours from Connecticut to Brattleboro, Vt., where he met the Sola sales rep, Mark DeVost. The sales rep transferred the unit to his vehicle and drove it to Concord, N.H., where a Holmes employee was waiting to receive it. He drove the unit up to Portland. By 5:00 that same afternoon, the UPS was installed at Holmes' headquarters, and the company's computer network was back in operation. The solution worked so well Holmes ordered two additional UPSs from Sola. After all, when El Nino and Mother Nature get together, you never know what kind of party they'll throw.