Friday, December 30, 2011

What Do 12 Pallets Of Bearings Look Like?

Ameru Trading del Peru S.A. had our latest order from Korea arrive just yesterday.  This cargo arrival, however, had a glitch that almost caused us great pain.

We buy from Korea, our supplier turns over the load to a freight forwarder there in Busan (major port).  The forwarder then arranges shipment, and gets them aboard ship.  Three weeks later the ship arrives to Callao (Peru's big port).  Our bearings ride in a 20' container with other people's stuff (a typical order from us maybe fills 25% of a container).  Upon arrival, the container is "stripped", papers presented to Peruvian Customs, some processing goes on and typically a few days after arrival to port, we get our bearings delivered to us, most of this is handled by our Customs Agent / freight forwarder.

This time we had an unusual problem come up that would have been nasty had we not help resolve it fast.  Turns out that someone in the shipping chain (forwarder-shipping line(s)-Customs Agent) had not been paid.  So, our bearing order was "embargoed" (blocked, frozen).  So, even though our bearings CLEARED CUSTOMS OK, they would not deliver because someone up the food chain had not been paid.  This happened to EVERYTHING (my understanding)  that arrived on that ship!  Many millions of dollars of products in total.

And the most painful part WOULD have been that provincial customers of ours had already paid us to be getting the Daewoo Tico bearing first, before we run out (KBC never sends us enough...).  Gaining trust of customers in the provinces is difficult in a low-trust environment like Peru.  Someone in provincial Peru pays us a week before THEY get their bearings?  <--- That trust has to be earned.

We were told to write emails and put on every pressure imaginable to get the reprobate debtor pay up to get our goods.  So we did!  I wrote one of the toughest notes I have ever written to EVERYONE, yeah, with whatever you can do with words, I wrote it!  Fortunately, it looks like our supplier put the squeeze on their forwarder (and I imagine LOTS of pressure was put on by many others) and we got our bearings released and finally delivered yesterday.

We received 12 pallets of bearings.  We unload by hand (we do not own a forklift, labor is too cheap re the machine).  It took our six able-bodied men about 30 minutes of intense physical work (it is smart to unload a truck fast in a place like Lima (lots of street crime), we do not have a warehouse entrance or loading dock).  Also, we did not have room inside (we have a lot of space taken up by recent big (volume of space occupied) Chinese bearing arrivals.  So, we had to store them in our interior patio...  See the pictures:

You can see the sun shining down on our boxes of bearings there stacked in my in-laws' carport.

Below are five of our employees, who had to work like dogs getting the bearings off the truck and into our place, left to right are Nestor Cardenas, José Clavo, Roberto Arce (our versatile Sales Manager), Raul Quispe (Warehouse Manager) and César Rodriguez (General Manager):
You can see one of our delivery vehicles behind José, a Suzuki Carry (economical, Peru is a place where people and companies work VERY hard to keep capital expenses down, not much capital to invest).  Pretty snappy t-shirts, huh?  It is summer now in Lima.


Lily sent more pictures taken this afternoon!  These are pictures of us preparing boxes for delivery.  Because our customers in the provinces paid in advance, they are the first to get them.  We take their bearing orders to the bus companies that run from Lima to every corner of Peru.  This first picture shows some of our employees locating bearings from this newly arrived order and checking the paperwork (Invoices).  The two pretty ladies in dark t-shirts are Lily (right) and her daughter Denise (just left of center).

Our guys preparing to load the various orders we received...  Note the dollies (hand trucks).  No forklifts for us!

And, loading up the vehicles!  Note that when we ship to our provincial customers, we strap the boxes with steel ribbon to strengthen them while in transit (bearings are HEAVY!).  The young guy in the white t-shirt is Lily's son Gonzalo.

Thank you Lily for the pictures!

Finally, take note that we came back to the USA about two weeks ago.  I got to escape all that work...

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