Friday, December 7, 2012


                       Reach Stacker

Whenever black phone at home ring at the end of 1997/beginning 1998, my heart and my beloved wife beat harder, if it is coming from a Bank or a Leasing company asking for payment or installment monthly basis.
Our  company unable to pay both over due obligations on time since Tsunami waves hitted Asian economy, Indonesia was the most misery. Exchange rate jump high 6 times, from Rp.2.500,-/US.$ became Rp. 15.000,-

Most companies can't afford to import goods in such high rate, then our Stackers stop operation, since no any Containers to be handle in the port, where our Stackers mobile rented.

I worked in rental bussiness, after 21 years working in a big State own Bank with high pay check. I took high risk to leaved this 2nd best Bank in the country, after see the opportunity, retired early in relatively not too old, 49,  and then set up a new family company, back then in 1995.

When start our own office, what the first priority was knocking the doors of the Bank and Leasing companies. The 1st and 2nd door turn our application down cause the company was relatively new. The 3rd door, Japan - Indonesian joint venture company awarded us  Investment loan agreement for almost US $ 1 million, exactly US$ 968.000 to import 2 units Reach Stackers mobile from Finland. The loan is for 5 years period monthly basis installment.

The Reach Stacker is a mobile crane 4 wheel drive, able to reach and stack up to 6 levels of Container and carry maximum 60 tons of 40 feet Container. These Stackers used for Containers handling only, as photo above.

The 4rd door of a Bank also open based on my collateral, my house, the value could covered  working capital loan for US.$ 100.000 for one year period. Beside the Branch manager knew me well, he was my staff a decade earlier in Central Java when I was a Bank Branch manager too.

Now my status change drastically, change 180 degree from a lender, Deputy General manager become a borrower, a costumer, what the tension look like.

                              Me (seated) and the Bankers

Initially, we prepare a new family company will be lead by my wife, before I enter retirement period in 55 years old. But by working around the clock loading and unloading the ships and other activities, it is too hard for her. No other way for me execpt to request early retire from the Bank in 49 years. 

I leaved behind nice ties and cool office room in high rise building in prime location in the Capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, working from 8 to 5 and now working sweating under the sky with blue jean and T shirt in busy port with my wife to supervized the operation around the clock even we installed radio on the Stackers mobile, supervisors, on my car and at home as the office, around 5 miles away from the port.

Almost everyday and night we spend much time in sunny day or cool after midnight supervized directly in the port. Some other time we awake till dawn to help repairing to fixed it faster in order to prevent  penalty for not in operation hourly basis. So the time is money.
My hand used to be working in clean environment, paper work related to Financial world, now read technical manual, handling toolkits with oily hands. 

Struggling to pay monthly installment, personnel and tax in 2 and half years. Total value installment to the Leasing company are 30 times @ US$ 20.000,- vanished if we fail to pay the rest of obligation, 30 months to go.

Many big corporations and Banks collapsed at the time of crisis, unable to pay their debt. The debt was in US.$ but the revenue was in Indonesia Rupiah. In decade of 1990s, it was common practice to place one page  adverticement in daily Newspaper if they sign a big loan in US.$ from overseas. Soon after the crisis, some bad conglomerates runaway, leaved the country, leaving the big projects in chaos or let their Banks liquidated by the Goverment.

Our operation in the sea port of Jakarta stopped dead but the leasing company never stop calling or visitted asking for installment due, without any concern whatsoever of economic crisis. We rejected to pay from other sources, so our installment become over due or arrears.

15 personnels come to the office sobbing, but  fully understood the condition and accepted lay off decision, since no more cash income, no more Containers to handle.

Meanwhile Bank send 3 reprimand letters to inform that our home sweet home - where we lived - used as a collateral, now treated to be liquidated soon to repay the loan, also over due. The tension so high, some nights insomnia, couldn't fall asleep at all.

While lay in bed at night imagine how misery we are if we loose the case in the court, our reputable name will ruin by sell our house (2 floors, 4 garages, green garden with waterfall) then rent a simple one in the suburb of Jakarta. 

In the same time, Leasing company treated to withdraw back the two Stackers if we can't pay monthly installment due, even we paid 3 years installment always on time, before the crisis. From legal point of view, the hardwares are belong to them. The machines switching become ours after we pad it off.

In one early sunny afternoon my tears drop when  the huge 4 whell drive slowly leaving me and my wife stunned, remembering 3 of my kids studying in United State have to going home or stand on their own. Because we are can't afford to transfer funds for their tuition fee and cost of living. For a while they working full time and stop studying. The oldest boy worked in a gas station, a girl in handycraft store and the youngest boy in a wharehouse. 

Meanwhile the contract signed with the port authority for 2 years, cut off become one year only, since no import goods in the Containers to be handling. Fortunately, contract say that the port authority no right to cut off the contract in between and they have to pay monthly basis, because economic crisis is not our fault and in the contract not mention at all about the economic crisis as no one predicted beforehand.

We treat port authority officials for lunch and beg to settle the case peacefully, to negotiated to pay us half of the remain contract. We will use the funds to pay the Bank to prevent our house liquidated.

But they reject to pay and say :" You saw in the port no Container in the yard to be handle, so we are unable to pay you a dime", they assumed we are a new, small company, facing Giant port authority, Goverment own company. We ask them permission to take the case to the court. A finance Director just smile and said :"Go ahead".

So we took the case to the court. Tired going back and forth to the court for 2 years process, ultimately we win the case and the port have to pay us signifant value, 1 year rent, doing nothing.

In panic to afford the family, while waiting long proces in the court, we buy a special car for food stahl parked in road side to serve office staff around the blocks served by my beloved one, wife and kids. Beside, we earn our pension fund very small, around 25% from my pay check before retired. Remembered back how our status switching from a Banker to rental company, become a small bussines, food mobile stahl.

Simultaneously, we negotiated with the Bank not to liquidated our house and give us more time, while hoping for the best, waiting for the court in process. Feel relieved, the Branch manager fully understood the condition and request more time to Bank head office.

As soon as we win the case, instantly we run to the Bank to paid off the loan balance. Then loan to the Leasing company automatically paid off if we agree to let the Stackers go, withdraw by them.

From financial point of view, our reputable name - including wife and children - still clean, not included in "The Black list" of the Central Bank, mean that we may access to finance institutions any time later.

All our effort in the court, high tension, my kids stop studying, all our tears also paid off after the port hand over a big Bank's cheque as value of a year rent doing nothing.

The crisis is over, start a new life enjoy retired time in 54 years old and see my 3 kids back to our home sweet home,  buy 3 brand new cars for them to drive to extend their study in Jakarta University till graduated.

I am not regret to retired young. This case will encourage us facing any difficulties lay ahead, convince myself not run away from any problem in life.

The message is clear that do not worry to grasp the opportunity, cause the opportunity come so fast, work hard and smart, do by the book or contract. Bussines risk is there we couldn't run away but face it wisely.

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