Taken on trust

27 10 2007

We, that’s my generation, are probably a bit of a strange lot by modern standards. I’ll explain. We take things on trust. I last signed a lease on the nursery in 2000. Since then it’s been taken on trust that I’ll keep to the conditions we agreed to on paper back then. When I first computerised the point of sale my landlord was a bit suspicious and required me to print a listing of all the sales I’d made (my rent is based on turnover amongst other things) so he could check up on what I was paying. This lasted about four months until he realized that the computer and my programming were probably more accurate than him tapping away at a calculator. Now he just accepts the figures that I give him.

Some years ago I was working for a company that exported fresh vegetables and various value added products to the UK supermarkets. From time to time the agents we dealt with would send out various staff to check up on various aspects of the business. The first time Tracy came out she was more than taken aback when we stood back to allow her to enter a room first and we (that’s the predominantly male staff) stood up when she walked into a room. We asked her about this and she did admit that she sort of liked it but it took a bit of getting used to. I guess we were (and still are) a bit “old fashioned”.

Yesterday lunchtime I was about to head out to the gym when Colin came anxiously through the gate. He’s a dour chap with no discernible sense of humour so I should have known that something was up when he was considerably more voluble than usual. He acts as an agent for a number of farmers and they export a considerable amount of granadillas (passion fruit) to the EU. I’d grown a considerable amount of seedlings for a number of his customers and had accepted that they would pay on collection. This may seem a strange statement to make to those of you in civilized countries but we had to adopt an up front payment system to avoid getting left with large amounts of uncollected seedlings (yes, even when the farmer supplied the seed!). We have been dealing with Colin for a number of years now and never had a problem and this year he really owed us a lot as we’d managed to fill up the shortfall that another nursery had created by not germinating a single seedling. But his biggest grower who was planning on a 16ha granadilla project had been turfed off his farm. Now a project of that size requires considerable investment in terms of drip irrigation and trellising so he must have been confident that he was not going to encounter problems. Indeed, Colin assured me (at least four times, he was clearly nervous of my reaction) that this farmer was “connected” all the way to THE TOP. No matter, a fat cat wanted what he saw was a profitable enterprise and he has taken it. It matters not the slightest that he does not need it and does not have the skills to run it. The farmer in question was confident that he could get his irrigation and trellising off and start up somewhere else (make a plan) but I told Colin that realistically that would take 3 months or so and the seedlings would be long oversize by then. So, it seems that I will have to dump some 200000 granadilla seedlings worth some US$4000, a not inconsiderable amount for my business. If I am still here next year and if there are still commercial farmers to be supplied with granadillas we are going to have to review this whole trust issue. I really cannot see why I should “share in the risk” as has been suggested to me in the past! Oh, and I did not lose my cool. I couldn’t really even think how to react so I just shrugged and said nothing much; I think Colin got the message.



3 responses

28 10 2007

Perhaps an up front payment to at least cover production costs, after all business is business?

29 10 2007
Big Blister

When I paint a commissioned portrait of someone’s pet, I ask for 1/3 of the agreed price as a non-refundable deposit paid up front. I cannot guarantee they will like the portrait, but I need to get something for my effort. So far I haven’t had a problem with people agreeing to the deposit or liking the finished product, but yes, it is a nerve-wracking process.

31 10 2007

What a waste in every sense!

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