...This guy is now looking at ~1,000 man-hours rebuilding a database from paper files ... Because there just wasn't time to lock anything down properly...or do backups for that matter.
Interesting. Look at it from an accounting perspective.
So, it's necessary to rebuild a mission-critical database from scratch. right? And he's the only guy that can do it?
Let's see now...that's equivalent to 1000/40=25
40-hour working weeks of paid effort...
of a working year.
Just for the sake of argument, let's say he's paid at the rate of $50/hr
He's looking at 1000*50=$50,000
pay, right there.
Of course, once it's been rebuilt, there'll be an awful lot of extra work to verify/correct data quality, and design, set up, test and operate all those new backup/recovery/network and contingency processes that weren't there before - so's the database can't be lost so easily again, see?
I could be wrong, of course, without knowing the context and details, but this incident seems like it could offer some good job continuity/security for at least a year in these uncertain times.
If he's an employee, then maybe the guy is pretty smart.
If the job's done properly, it will be a long-lasting risk mitigation strategy for the company data and he'll be a hero. It sounds like it should've been done years ago.