Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Dream Million $$ Deal That Never Was: PART II

Even before the swing-door closed behind the departing CEO of Arvid Nordquist HAB, I was into the office of my boss – to appraise him of the absolutely incredible conversation I had with the owner of the Swedish super-market chain.

For my Division - The Export Division - the possibility of export at such a scale was totally mind boggling!  Thus, quite obviously, the management resolved that I should forthwith start work on it - yesterday! - if it were possible. Unlike today, during the good old days, exports were the thing - we gave our all to export whatever we could - including the lowly milled wooden broomsticks.

Next day I departed for Samchi, where the juice factory was located. The conversation with the management of the factory was a none-starter - I was appalled by the total indifference to the exciting idea of exports of their produces. Instead, I was told that all marketing directives emanated at the factory’s HQ, based in Phuntsholing.

Next stop: Phuntsholing HQ of Bhutan Fruit Products Private Limited, owned by the Tashi Group of Companies. Here, too, the marketing team remained unimpressed. I was told to meet the MD of the Group – the late Mr. G C Bhura. I did.

He heard me out - with visible nonchalance. He agreed that my proposal would be a year-round assurance of market for the company’s orange and mango juices - but he expressed the view that he did not see a need to improve the packaging - he said that the market accepted their produces in its existing form and state.

I said the export market did not! He said - well, they were not so enamored by the export market - that they were doing quite OK as they were.

I argued that it was inevitable - that they were bound to have to do it at one point - that their current process was pre-historic. He agreed, but said that it was something in the future - while I was talking of the now and the present. He suggested that I might speak to the owner of the Group – late Dasho Rimp.

Next stop Dasho Rimp: He read me the book on his management philosophy. He said that the Group’s MD was at the head of decision-making chain - he said I should speak with G C Bhura.

Back to G C Bhura. This time, I threw in a sweetener to the deal - I offered the possibility of financial participation in the modernization of their plant’s packaging unit - if he agreed to abandon their existing system. He said that they could consider it - but that he needed convincing that I had money where my mouth was.

I returned to my base and put the cards on the table before my management: we could most likely have a deal - provided we helped with the modernization of the packaging unit - financially.

My boss said: How is it possible for the government to participate financially, in a private enterprise. I said why not? - doing so could result in millions of dollars in export earnings that would be to the benefit of the government.

But all things considered - I had a bigger problem facing me - I did not know a thing about juice canning plants - how much it costs and who supplied the machinery, including who supplied the empty cans, the technology, the process etc. etc.

My management’s decision: I should study the matter in depth. After a long-drawn market research, I came up with The Metal Box Company Limited, Singapore (since ceased) – the then world leaders in the manufacture and supply of tin cans for the juicing industry.

Destination: The Lion City

Destination Singapore! This will be my second trip to Singapore – my first was in 1979 when the only Super Market I knew that existed in Singapore then was the Plaza Singapura (last I know, it still exists) which I visited - strictly for window shopping – no Tiru to go beyond that 😢.

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