Big Fogg made it to its second year of operations in 2001 but was still facing many difficulties of a non-capitalized startup company. We made it past its football season in 2000 with a collection of forty-eight Misting Fans that we could rent to NFL and NCAA football teams. We also established a website, had Big Fogg employees distributed throughout the country and opened a secondary office in Jacksonville, Florida, with one year under its belt.
Big Fogg could not afford storage for its 48-misting fans. They were stored in an employee’s front yard in Encinitas, CA. and guarded by several Rottweilers. Believe me, no one touched the misting fans.
Big Fogg was operating out of a small studio apartment in San Clemente. The redeeming feature of the apartment was a partial view of the ocean, but it did not have a kitchen or closet space. As the company grew it was able to expand to a full one-bedroom apartment in 2002 that also was home to its President
When the 2001 football, season began, we signed agreements to supply misting fans across the country. We had refurbished the Misting Fans and reinforced the 1000 psi line with larger fittings. We added new clients for the year (UCLA, LSU, Miami, and Syracuse) for the year and signed new contracts for the season with the Detroit Lions and the San Diego Chargers.
During the first two weeks of the 2001 season Big Fogg was already experiencing minor issues. For example, the misting fans were delivered and misplaced for the UCLA-Alabama game in Alabama the first week of the season. Fortunately, they were found at the stadium buried in a spare room just in time to be used for the game. The Big Fogg misting fans were operated the entire game on the UCLA sideline as the Bruins defeated the Crimson Tide in a tight 20-17 game.
The weekend before 9/11 Christopher Miehl, President of Big Fogg, worked in the Michigan-Washington game in Seattle. Big Fogg supplied six misting fans for both teams along with the associated high-pressure misting pumps.
The Michigan – Washington game was broadcasted as the ABC college football game of the week, so there were lots of television cameras and personnel making it difficult to maneuver on the sideline. Tom Ernst, our lead technician at the game used his ingenuity to minimize the footprint of the misting fans.
There were about 75,000 fans in attendance for this big college game. The temperature was in the mid-70s, so we did not need the misting component of the fans for the whole game, but the fans were used the whole game. The game went back and forth but Washington pulled it out at the last minute and won 23-18, a good weekend for the Pac-12.
After the game, Christopher Miehl, who worked the game, packed up the Misting Fans and sent both sidelines to their next destination. He remained in Seattle on Sunday and watched a couple of NFL games that were using our misting fans and visited family. The following weekend was scheduled to be Big Fogg’s busiest weekend of the entire year to provide cooling fans on football sidelines with the most games and of course the most revenue.
Flights for our technicians and misting fans shipments were arranged to be delivered for the following weekend to 8 NFL and/ or NCAA football games.
Chris flew back to California on 9/10/01 feeling comfortable and about working at the NFL and NCAA football games scheduled for the following weekend. “I remember the airports being quite hectic during the evening as I flew from Seattle to Orange County. I carried on board with me my complete tool kit that included cutting tools, screw drivers, wrenches, and hammers. Little did I know that would be the last time I would ever be allowed to bring my misting fan sideline tools as carry-on luggage.”
Christopher Miehl, President of Big Fogg remembers “Big Fogg’s office was in my small studio apartment. My bed was in the middle of the room. My computer was on a desk in the back of the studio where I could sit and work and look out at my partial view of the ocean. My phone rang early on the morning of 9/11/01. A friend of mine and employee was calling from the East Coast. Where he was setting up to work a game for that weekend. East Coast time was three hours ahead so I quickly told him I had flown in late, and I was tired, could he please call me back later. He responded in a panic, “They are flying planes into buildings in New York City”. I replied, “get out here I’m going back to sleep.” He insisted, “If you don’t believe me then turn on the TV”. I turned on the TV and sat there in shock as the networks continued playing the same clip over and over of the airplane flying into the two World Trade Center, and the collapsing.
The action was so hard to believe, and I was in total shock for days to come. As I suspected the tragedy resulted in all the NFL for the next weekend being cancelled. These cancellations were soon followed by the cancellation of the college games. The misting fans for many of these games were already shipped to these games and plane tickets for my technicians were already purchased. These games were cancelled and re-scheduled for the end of the season by which the teams would not need misting fans, and my contracts would be cancelled.
I was concerned that 9/11 tragedy would put this small company out of business.
I remember talking to all the college teams that we had a contract with to see if we were working that weekend. By the end of the week, they had all cancelled.
It appeared that Big Fogg was in trouble. We were able to stop a couple shipment of misting fans, but a few were already picked up. Cancelling our flights was different since the airlines were down and not answering their calls to talk about refunds.
Then the most unexpected thing that could have happened, happened.
It is like the Universe said, “When one door closes another one opens”. And another door opened for Big Fogg.
Within a week after 9/11 a representative of Con Edison of New York contacted me.
Con Edison was having a problem with bringing additional electricity back to Manhattan after 9/11. The Electrical power structures were damaged after the twin towers collapsed. Con Edison needed to overload their existing transformers to provide additional electricity.
Con Edison was inquiring if Big Fogg misting fans could dissipate the heat if they overloaded the transformers. Then Con Edison requested that Big Fogg bring its misting fans to ground zero. Their Engineers calculated that Big Fogg misting fans would adequately cool down their transformers at ground zero.”
Christopher Miehl continued “It sounded like an interesting idea, but there was the problem of transporting Big Fogg misting fans to downtown New York. Since no planes were flying, and no commercial trucks were running, we would have to drive them ourselves. After making some calls I found Big Fogg technicians willing to drive the misting fans to New York. I just had to find out where the misting fans were since many of them were already picked up by carrier before 9/11.
Fortunately, we had twelve misting fans near downtown New York: Six of them had been for the Orange Men at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, about a four-hour drive away from Ground Zero. The other six misting fans were at the Meadowlands in New Jersey where we set up for the Indianapolis Colts against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
We figured these twelve misting fans would be sufficient to cool down the transformers to increase the output of the electrical generators.
I would have liked to be personally involved in the misting fans installation at ground zero. But I was in California. I arranged for a truck to be driven there from Big Fogg’s Jacksonville office. Then the truck was met alongside Interstate 95 by a lead Big Fogg technician, an experienced Big Fogg technician, Tom Travis from Maryville, Ohio.
They picked up the Misting Fans left at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse and then the Misting Fans in New Jersey. Three representatives from the Big Fogg crew arrived at ground zero and were met by Con Edison personnel. The misting fans were set up next to the transformers and all of them were turned on.
The twelve misting fans reduced the transformers temperature sufficiently to allow the electrical generation to be increased.”
Subsequently Big Fogg worked with Con Edison on other projects involving the use of our misting fans and misting systems. Christopher Miehl was given a tour of ground zero less than two months after the tragedy. The area was still a disaster, with dust still rising from the ground and rubble as far as the eye could see. He remembered a remarkable site of the church still standing next right next to where the collapsed.
Chris stated he will always be proud of Big Fogg having an active role in helping at 9/11 and to be of service to the city of New York and the nation at the time a great tragedy.