I visited the capital metropolis of Syria, Damascus, for the fifth time in 1994, alongside Jeff Inexperienced, the British Common Supervisor of the American-Turkish three way partnership firm I used to be working for. There was a necessity for a brand new water-tube steam boiler by the Syrian public oil refineries.
The USA had imposed an embargo on Syria on the time. Nevertheless, Canada had not, so our firm’s Canadian division might have submitted a bid. We ready the bid on their behalf in Ankara, Turkey. We attended web site visits and buyer conferences posing as staff of the Canadian firm.
Considered one of us (Jeff) was British, and the opposite (myself, the writer) was a Turkish citizen. It didn’t matter, because the bid was submitted on behalf of the Canadian firm. As soon as we secured the contract, the whole lot – the design and manufacturing – can be carried out by us in Ankara. Canada would obtain $50k for appearing as an middleman.
Our Syrian Armenian consultant, George Seropian, whose ancestors had fled from Maras province in 1915, can be paid $25k. The ultimate bid value was $1.7m. The water-tube boiler had a steam capability of 55 tons per hour, producing 20-bar superheated steam. We had accomplished an identical venture earlier than, so the design was prepared. For us, it was a straightforward bid. We had submitted our bid on our earlier go to and confronted competitors from German, French, and Chinese language corporations. The Chinese language firm was disqualified attributable to insufficient high quality. We supplied the shortest supply time on the lowest price.
One of many members of the analysis committee introduced up an merchandise within the tender specs. They requested the operation and upkeep manuals. These manuals are sometimes ready specifically for the end-user buyer personnel on the time of ultimate supply of the product, not on the contract stage. All we might do was promise to supply them. Nevertheless, we discovered ourselves in a bind on the right way to present these manuals, which we have been informed to ship by the following enterprise day.
We returned to the workplace of our consultant in Damascus. It was after enterprise hours, and the secretary had gone residence. As a result of seven-hour time distinction, our Canadian workplace was nonetheless in operation. There was no chance of creating a cellphone name. The Syrian Intelligence Service was listening in and connecting calls late. The web didn’t exist on the time.
We despatched a brief fax to our Canadian workplace requesting them to fax us the important pages of the operation and upkeep guide for the same venture. The incoming fax would first go to the Syrian Intelligence Service, and in the event that they permitted it, it will be forwarded to us. The fax machine began up at midnight, and pages of the operation and upkeep guide started to reach from our Canadian headquarters. We acquired 20 pages of hard-to-read textual content. Jeff and I took turns on the pc, retyping the faxed textual content. We added new data particular to Syria, revisited the boiler description, and copy-pasted the non-existent components from different texts. We corrected spelling and expression errors, and by daybreak, we had accomplished about 100 pages of the brand new operation and upkeep guide. We added photos, printed them out, made photocopies, and certain them right into a e-book utilizing spiral binding.
By morning, ten units of operation and upkeep manuals have been prepared. We handed them over to our consultant, who went to the general public firm workplace with nice pleasure and submitted them. The subsequent day, we signed the contract.
We bought the product at the next value than the home market. We manufactured it in lower than a yr and shipped it from Mersin to the Latakia port. We charged additional for the set up on the refinery. We made a superb revenue. The refinery was within the northeastern nook of Syria. Now, that space is in ruins. It’s now not underneath the management of presidency forces. Who is aware of who controls it now? Educated Syrians are now not there. They’ve fled the nation. That profitable market is gone for us. It can take many years to re-establish.
On the earth of enterprise, we promote items and providers when there’s peace within the area. We offer employment and funding, and we earn cash.
In instances of warfare, solely arms sellers earn a living. Struggle merchants, arms producers don’t reside in these areas themselves. Struggle solely advantages them. One of the best corporations with the newest know-how earn a living. The individuals of our area concerned within the warfare combat one another and solely undergo. There isn’t a successful aspect. Struggle drains all assets from all sides. If you wish to keep away from warfare, you should all the time be prepared for warfare with deterrent energy. We’ve to place Altay’s new-generation battle tanks into mass manufacturing. We’ve to construct higher ones than F16 fighter jets. We should produce higher unmanned aerial autos and missiles than Patriot and S-400 surface-to-air missiles. We should educate and prepare army command workers in one of the simplest ways doable to handle human assets properly in instances of a warfare surroundings. On this tough geography, we’ve no alternative however to do all this and extra to outlive.
Throughout the Syrian order course of, we realized that one have to be versatile and adaptable in worldwide enterprise. Regardless of the late-night scramble to create operation and upkeep manuals, we made it work. We needed to faucet into our assets, suppose on our toes, and make the most of what we had. In the long run, we efficiently secured the contract.
We additionally realized the importance of native partnerships in navigating the intricacies of international markets. George Seropian, our consultant, was essential in helping us to grasp the Syrian enterprise surroundings, particularly concerning the embargo. We acknowledged the significance of cross-cultural negotiation, working with Canadians, Individuals, Syrians, and British companions, all whereas working as a Turkish firm.
Past the sensible enterprise abilities, this expertise supplied a profound lesson concerning the geopolitical forces that form international enterprise. The Syrian civil warfare has had a disastrous affect on its infrastructure and financial system. We had witnessed Syria’s transformation from a thriving market to a war-torn panorama, displaying us how briskly fortunes can change attributable to political instability and battle. It taught us the necessity to regularly reassess danger and keep knowledgeable about international occasions.
The connection between peace and enterprise was starkly clear. Struggle not solely devastates lives and societies, but it surely additionally disrupts and destroys financial exercise. The one “beneficiaries” are the warfare merchants and arms producers who revenue off the miseries of others.
In response to such a fancy geopolitical surroundings, one should foster peace and stability. However on the similar time, a nation should have the capability to defend itself. This requires funding in know-how and schooling to make sure a rustic’s army functionality. This isn’t about selling warfare, however about discouraging potential aggressors by the present of power.
We returned from Syria, each enriched and sobered by our experiences. The contract, although worthwhile, was greater than only a enterprise enterprise—it was a lesson in adaptability, partnership, geopolitics, and the indelible hyperlink between peace and prosperity. The reminiscences of this expertise proceed to affect our methods and choices, making us extra resilient in an unpredictable international enterprise panorama.