Friday, June 22, 2012

Asian Eyes' USA - Unexpected Guests

I went to school in USA back in the early nineties. One morning in November, a hard knock on my door woke me up. I looked through the peep hole. It was girl, carrying a baby, and a small built guy with John Lennon’s spectacle, carrying a box. Without opening the door I asked “Who is it?”. “Is Max home?” he replied. “I am, but sorry, I do not expect any guest or package today, you got the wrong person” I replied through the door. “Hey Max, I’m Zak. You can’t recognize my voice?” I did not expect the strong voice over the phone belongs to a small guy like him. I opened the door to welcome them in. It turned out that he came for an admission interview with my university, and dropping by to meet me. It was a nice surprise from Zak.
USA stands for University of South Alabama
We chatted like long lost friend. His close friend in my vicinity whom he visited in the spring had gone back home. Zak was an engineering student in Memphis, Tennessee, and had completed his degree last month. He was down here to look at my university to continue his MBA studies. Many time when I wrote about USA, I literally meant USA - University of South Alabama. Zak had driven 6 hours through the night, completed the admission interview and drove over to see me. They looked tired and asked to take a nap. They slept for some 3 hours and sprang up fresh. The box that Zak brought along contained strawberries and grapes. We had some of those while talking about fishing and fishes. He had 1 kid and his wife, Rose, also an international student. They were under government scholarship, and managed to get extra pocket money through the fishes I send them. It brought in some small income when he in turn sold them to others in his state.
The next day I took Zak the Dauphin Island pier to show him where the fishes he got came from. We did not meet Sam as we did not enter the pier proper.  On the way back home I noticed that he seem to be lost in some thought. Then he popped a question that taken me aback. “Max, I want to remain in the states but with a kid now, I need more income to tide me through. Actually apart from MBA studies, another reason I come down is talk to you is about business. How about selling your business to me?” Whoa! That was what troubling him all along! This may be coincidental. I had had a couple of stressful nights thinking about the future of my little hobby turned business. I have no time running around with main examination round the corner. Beside that I also attended couple of job interviews, now waiting for result. “OK, what is your offer?” I asked. “Can I looked at your account first before I make an offer” replied Zak. “Sure. I can show you anything you like” I added. I took a longer journey home, buying some time to think through how much I should sell. In 6 months, my income had grown from $500 to $3,000. My margin was roughly half. I was able to self fund my study and living expenses and not rely on ask money from home. Most importantly I had a good life experience.  Not bad for a hobby that turned into an incidental business!
Zak and family came visiting
At home I showed Zak my customers list, stack of UPS consignment notes and receipts, and my suppliers – Sam and his buddies, the shrimper, and my bank account, the in and out. I also told him about angling license, fishes that had limits, and the competitions and who they were. Zak also asked about my apartment rental, utility and phone bill, and how far to get to the pier, shrimper boat and the UPS store, etc. After going through the documents and statements, he bade some time to discuss with his wife. I left them alone and cooked lunch. Tony joined me in the kitchen later and both of us whipped out curry fish head with okra, a plate of fried mustard leaves with garlic and egg omelet with shrimps. We ate lunch and Rose did the washing. I was grateful of not doing the dirty dishes.
After lunch Zak signaled to me that he was ready to make an offer. “I will double your monthly gross revenue” he did the opening, “but I will need you to introduce me to your suppliers and customers and inform them that I am taking over “he continued. I thought for a moment. The figure in my head was triple, but we had a good start in this negotiation. “Zak, I am doing this part time. If I am to do this full time, I will get much more. $6K sound a tad too low” I reasoned. “I am looking more at $10K, a mere 3 months revenue” I continued. “Max, look at it this way. You and I know it. The market is limited now, the fishes are not the commercial types, some have catch limits, and barrier to entry is low, you agree?” he countered. I was cornered. My asking price dropped a little while he inched up higher. After much haggle, counter offer and re-counter, we finally reached an agreement price of $8K dollars, with my rickety old car thrown in. We sealed the deal with a handshake. Zak handed me a check for $2,000 and promised to settle the balance when they returned to Gulf Coast in a couple of weeks time. That night I gave a treat Zak, Rose and Tony to a dinner at the Hong Kong restaurant and introduced to them the owner and crews as well. Hurray, no need to do dirty dishes, again!

Location: Four Season Apartment, 133 East Dr  Mobile, AL 36608, USA.
Tel: +1 251-342-7931

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