Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Alchemy Of Turning Steel Into Gold, Part 2

^----  O/T, but worth noting above is the debt widget which now informs us that each taxpayer is now on the hook for over $123,000.  My rough calculation is that we go $1000 / taxpayer DEEPER into the hole about every six weeks or so.


Most of you faithful readers know that I am in Peru, working with Ameru to help add value to Peru´s economy: when we sell a Korean bearing it means that someone CHOSE ours because they saw it as a better value than the competition´s piece.

Adding value is the key to profit and to generating wealth.  If we offer a better value to our customers, we make money, and they SAVE money.  Win / win.  I recently coined the idea of ¨the alchemy of turning steel (52100 grade bearing steel) into gold¨.  That is what companies try to do, operate in an environment where their efforts produce wealth, and in my case, convert some of that wealth at some point later on into physical gold, the best preserver of wealth there is.


So here in Peru I am trying to help our company do just that.  But rather than bore you all with company operations, etc., I will pass along some fun experiences I have had in here in the rather lively city of Lima.

On Monday, Cesar (our General Manager) and I went to the northern Lima suburb of Puente Piedra (¨Stone Bridge¨) way over on the other side of the city to visit customers.  Lima is a huge city (over 7,000,000 people), and it takes time to drive that far with an infrastructure not really ready to handle traffic as well as ours.  Puente Piedra serves kind of as the northern gate to Lima, beyond that suburb is empty desert...

On the way I observed the cars and trucks passing by, as I almost always do when outside the USA.  In the past year or two, a HUGE number of Chinese car & truck brands have entered Peru.  My rough count is about 20 brands!  Golden Dragon, Dong Feng, Howo, JAC, Great Wall and many others.  Our customers tell us that despite the Chinese vehicles being cheap (but not as cheap as you would expect), that they are poorly built...  Bad cars!  When they replace their wheel bearings, they rarely go to the Dealer or buy any Chinese bearing for it.

I am happy to report (finally) one for the Home Team (USA)!  Navistar´s International brand is back in Peru and in force!  I saw 8 NEW International big trucks and tractor-trailer rigs just on the trip to Puente Piedra alone.

Later that evening, my brothers-in-law and I had the chance to knock back some of Cuba´s Havana Club rum (¨brown label¨, pretty good).  Rum fans take note, yet another reason to visit Peru!

And of course, eat, eat, eat.  Peruvian food is good!  Those who know me will be happy to know I have had to loosen up my belt a notch...


Tuesday brought its own little adventures.  Lima is soon to open their new Metro, yes that´s right, mass transit via rail!  It is an elevated train system (who wants to ride a subway in a seismic zone, Everybody Knows a big earthquake will hit this city sometime...).  They are testing the trains now, I saw one go by, a snazzy red & white color scheme (Peru´s two colors on their flag).

I also found out that one of OUR delivery vehicles can run on natural gas!  For years now Lima has been converting taxis and other cars to NatGas because it is cheaper than gasoline, and Peru has a nice BIG NatGas field and has completed the pipiline to ship it to the Pacific and up to Lima.  I have found it a conundrum why the USA cannot do something similar, pick some low hanging fruit (trucks on the interstates, city buses, UPS trucks, etc.) re converting some vehicles to NatGas, which is CHEAP and ABUNDANT in the USA.

Tuesday also brought us yet another little adventure rarely seen in the USA.  One of our delivery vehicles lost its water (leaking hose?  water pump gone bad?).  It was not driveable.  So after our Sales Manager and I completed a delivery to a bus line (bearings heading out to a customer in the southern Andean city of Arequipa), we went over to recover our stricken vehicle.  Our (multitasking) Sales Manager (Roberto Arce, hey, Roberto, you´re FAMOUS now, LOL...) went and bought a made-in-China rope, used it to hook up our rear bumper with their front bumper, and he TOWED it back to Ameru.  That was a 4 mile expedition, and included a couple of miles on an expressway...  So, yes, I punched another hole in my ticket, part of towing our truck back in the developing world...

Also on Tuesday, I had the time to comment on an Internet forum that I frequent.  I was on the Internet searching stuff while at the same time trying to write SQL coding (to dig out information from my sales database) on my laptop close by.  Trying to do two different things on two different computers often does not work out well... Please see my haiku that I posted there at

¨Multitasking in Peru¨  --  a haiku by Robert A. Mix

I move the mouse here,
And nothing even happens.
Oh, wrong computer!


This week also saw the Peruvian Sol go up again vs. the US$.  For the first time EVER, the dollar fell below 2.70 soles.  That is GOOD for our company (in that we BUY bearings with dollars and SELL in soles).  It also makes our company more valuable in US$ terms!  So even with Peru´s current problems (the big Cajamarca gold mine protests) and uncertainties (WHAT is Chavez-clone President Humala going to do here?), Peru´s currency continues to RISE against the dollar.  What to make of that when everyone is saying that Europe, the USA and even China are on the verge of recession?

1 comment:

  1. Nice -- I know the sentiment of your haiku well! Hope you had a great time, it always sound very interesting!


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