Time flies and, once again, I am forced to wait far too long before being able to sit at the computer to put down some thoughts. It gets worse since, due to the lack of doing, my ability to get started on a blank page gets rusty and needs priming. Well, ‘nuff of this…
The company was called “Cenit” a name which, in Spanish, means “Top of … ”. Yeah, yeah… we Latinos tend to go for the grandiose… nothing less will be impressive enough… Anyway Cenit, the company, was an empty floor: no desks, no phones, no equipment, no… nada! We walked into an echo chamber, where every thing that was said was thrown back by the walls surrounding this emptiness. There was a lot of work to do and a relatively short time in which to do it. We had about 4 months in our hands prior to the Christmas (summer vacation there) break and we had to be ready to at least impress those folks from the press so that, by the time summer recess was over, we would be ready to roll. This was Bs As, late 1986. The electronic environment which allows me to so easily write and publish these notes was in its infancy and all had to be done in real time, not virtual.
Duties and responsibilities were quickly delegated and spread around. At the beginning, there were only three of us: the Admin VP, a quiet but efficient and well regarded fellow who came to us with some 18 yrs experience in the local industry, the already mentioned Financial VP, one messenger and jack-of-all-trades and me, a jack… without a trade… There was one area I understood and did well: marketing/sales (not to confuse one with the other); therefore, the actual running of the company had to be shared with these fellows, with the added personal incentive that this could not be perceived as such by them. I utilized the fact that the Argentinean market was indeed very different than those where I had heretofore worked, and needed a bit of time for adjustments.
The Admin VP and I formed an alliance and became great collaborators; he had the needed local experience and I the international exposure which was to be exploited. First order of things: a personal assistant for me. Maddy (
Magdalena) came into my business life via the Admin VP, who knew her and had worked with her in another company. She turned out to be a gem… did take a little getting used to, but a true and loyal assistant. With her help and knowledge of the then existing local market, we began to recruit the basic personnel needed, buy the furniture on which to sit them and the equipment to have them do something while sitting there. Getting phone lines was a story unto itself. At that time the BsAs phone company was a mix-match of long existing and competing outfits, whose different brand equipments (German, Italian and some English) had to be patched and adapted in order for them to work and coexist with each other. Not to mention communicate.
To complicate this(ese) issue(s), the communications syndicate was a tough labor outfit who took in new customers and their gratifications… directly and in person, with hair slicked back, black leather jackets and all. They were the ones who controlled those who received service; yes, you could buy the equipment but unless you were planning to use it as pretty paperweights, the service had to be contracted with these guys. Our Admin guy, well versed in these negotiations, took over and we received our service within 24 hours of the bonus being paid (matters have changed quite a bit since then, the telecomm business being now a modern, united company with regular business practices) and we were now able to make and receive calls. Now we just needed someone at the other end of the line…
Things began to move quickly, with 12 hour work days becoming the norm. Between Maddy and Mr. VP Admin, we were able to populate the office with a group of young people, who actually turned out to be excellent learners and workers. In fact, I still communicate with a couple of them once in a while. Yes, with Maddy also; she is now an attorney. I can only visualize what an appearance in court by her may be… Worth tickets, I’m sure. Since the admin part was working well and the financial end was being held up by Henry, I then dedicated my time to what I knew best: the development of the product to be sold and of the marketing plans which would help sell it. And, oh yeah… the sales structure (different than any other sales structure in the market then) to actually bring it to the market…. Hah! Piece o’Cake!!
My time is up for now… I guess our stay in
deserves the time and the space in these entries. It was an important period for all of us, for many different reasons and it bears some detail… Argentina
Until next time… Be well; Be Back…