Greg Carafello may not be a firefighter, but he’s still one of New York City’s bravest.
His former business, Abracadabra Digital Color Of New York — a group of stores he refers to as “a high-end Kinko’s” — was headquartered on the 18th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower, where he was working on 9/11.
Today Carafello has a new venture: he is a master franchisee of the northeast division of a chain of printer supply stores called Cartridge World — three of which are in New York City. As of a few months ago, he’s been headquartered at a desk on the 85th floor of 1 World Trade Center.
While the site may seem like the last place a 9/11 survivor would want to work, Carafello said that he’s developed a sense of pride about the hub.
“Sometimes you’ve got to face your fears,” Carafello said. “It’s a coming back kind of feeling.”
That’s not to say that he didn’t need time to get over his trauma.
“When you’re running out of the building [on 9/11], even though you aren’t injured, you’re shaken up,” he recalled. “The noise level and things like that, it shakes you up, so I had no interest in going back the first three or four years.”
His trepidation was fueled by the financial loss he took when his office space went down with the tower. When the nation fell into a recession after 9/11, trade shows — one of Abracadabra’s main clients — offered less business. In 2004, Carafello and his wife sold the business, to focus on a financial and emotional recovery.
Flash forward a few years and Carafello is back in the game. Cartridge World has more than a thousand stores internationally, including 520 in the United States. Carafello owns the rights to New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia.
Though he spends roughly 35% of his time visiting store owners and helping them develop their businesses, he needed a central spot to work. When the new World Trade Center started leasing, he felt a calling.
“It’s exciting,” he said of the new building. “It’s an energy you can’t replicate anywhere in the world.”
Since there’s plenty of space to expand in the new WTC, his vision includes it becoming a training center for the northeast franchises.
“I see that being the meeting space for a lot of the people in the northeast,” he said, adding that one of his favorite aspects of the tower is its easy access to transportation.
But possibly the biggest perk of all for Carafello: “It’s probably the most prestigious address in the country.”