Fire disrupts three local businesses

Mar. 08, 2013 @ 03:51 PM

Nearly 100 people got an unexpected morning off on Friday after a fire shut down a pair of businesses on Sunrise Center Drive.
Thomasville Fire Department Battalion Chief Derek Medlin said a fire broke out at Leads to Success, 123 Sunrise Center Drive Suite A, Thursday night at approximately 7:28 p.m., causing an estimated $150,000 damage to the 22,500-square-foot metal building.
"There's quite a bit of damage but structurally the building is still sound," Medlin said. "They're going to have some remodeling to do but they won't have to tear it down or anything like that."
Approximately 45 people work at Leads to Success and Innovative Marketing Solutions, a sister company located next door in Suite B, which also sustained minor damage from the fire. H. Van Owens Jr., director of information technology with The Assurance Group, the parent company for the two affected businesses, said all 45 people and an additional 50 employees at a satellite location were not working Friday morning as a result of the blaze. Owens said Friday morning the power was cut to Leads to Success, shutting down a key data center that affected all three sites.
"We're trying to get everybody back to work as quickly as possible," said Owens. "All things considered, we definitely were blessed."
According to Medlin, the fire started in the engine compartment of a box truck parked inside Leads to Success, a mail preparation company that puts out between 10,000 and 500,000 pieces of mail a week. Thomasville, Fair Grove, Hasty and Pilot Fire Departments responded to the scene and had the blaze under control in three hours.
"There was a lot of fire but it was more contained to the truck and three pallets of plastic boxes," Medlin said. "The hood of the truck and all that plastic made for a large volume of fire. We were able to knock it down pretty quick because there was a lot of fire but in a small area."
Owens said the box truck was being parked inside at night due to gas theft.
"It was a large truck the lead company uses to take mail back and forth to the postal service," said Owens. "We were having trouble with gas being emptied out of the tank at night."
Once power is restored, which Owens expected to happen sometime Friday afternoon, the data center would allow voicemail and email systems and corporate websites for agents to come back online. Owens said employees were notified of the fire Thursday night and were told they would be kept informed as to when they could return to work. Innovative Marketing Solutions is a fully functioning call center for servicing clients. The Assurance Group has its headquarters at 5035 Prospect St.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or