Competing company lends a helping hand to flooded rival

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — This is not Jerry Lundegaard’s Fargo.
In the real Fargo, business folk won’t be confused with the conniving ninny of a car salesman in the movie “Fargo” who decides to have his own wife kidnapped as a way of raising money.
Since the Plains flooding of recent weeks, they sneer at advantage and profit: they are trying to help competitors.
Great Plains Software got the idea going.
After the flooding Red River swallowed Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Minn., about 75 miles north along the river, Great Plains Software offered space in its Fargo offices, use of equipment, even labor to keep another software company alive during the crisis.
“We put ourselves in their shoes and wondered how we would keep ourselves going if a flood like that had hit Fargo,” said Don Nelson, general manager of Great Plains’ Macintosh line of business accounting software. “They’d have done the same thing for us, I know it.”
Absolutely, said Steve Lunseth, president and chief executive officer of Aatrix Software, the recipient of Great Plains Software’s helping hand.
“Because it’s how we do things in North Dakota,” he said. “Even if we compete with each other, we help each other out any way we can when there’s a crisis like this.”
Aatrix’s ground-floor offices are filled with water, Lunseth said. Tens of thousands of dollars in software were destroyed, along with computer and office equipment and supplies. However, he said, the company has enough cash on hand to keep its 16 employees on the payroll until it can rebuild.
When Lunseth’s brother, John, a Minneapolis lawyer, heard what Great Plains was doing, he organized attorneys in his community to help Grand Forks law firms rebuild. In addition to the flood, the downtown Grand Forks fire destroyed six law firms, Steve Lunseth said.
The Fargo Chamber of Commerce is asking other businesses to do the same — call it an “adopt-a-business” program, said Grant Richardson, the chamber’s membership director.
“We’re challenging our members to work with the businesses, to provide office space, paper clips or whatever equipment they need to get back on their feet,” he said.