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|Pronto Promo Facility||"The Guys in the shop"|
I recently had an opportunity to travel to Pakistan to set up a woodworking facility for a customer there. My first reaction was sure, why not? Shortly after that the US Embassy was hit in Benghazi. By the end of the week the protests had made it to Pakistan but I was still determined to go.
I boarded a plane in Jacksonville to start the 20+ hour trip. I arrived in Dubai and found what seemed like another world. The glamour and glitz was everywhere. I approached a jewelry counter and in it saw bars of gold stacked up ranging in size from a few grams to one kilo. I asked the price of the largest bar and the woman told me it was around $40,000 US. I was actually surprised the gold wasn’t available in the vending machines there.
My next stop was Lahore, Pakistan. I arrived and made my way through to customs where I was approached by what I thought was airport personnel and escorted through customs and directly to my bags. It was then I was asked if my experience was satisfactory, when I replied yes I was asked for $200.00. Knowing that I had been pulled into my first Pakistani scam I refused and offered $50.00 which I figured was high but he did save me an hour in line. Once out of the terminal and in the hands of my host I was told that $50.00 was probably 2 weeks pay for the gentleman that “helped” me. Such is life…lesson learned.
The trip to the hotel was uneventful but the trip to the factory in the morning was a real eye opener. I can’t remember the last time I was so visually stimulated, maybe on my first trip to Disney? At any given time you could see about 2000 years of transportation evolution on the road. I saw pedestrians, camels, donkey carts, bicycles, and families of five loaded onto Honda 150s, powered rickshaws, farm tractors pulling trailers, cars and trucks. On side roads I saw similar but added to the mix were herds of water buffalo and sheep being led down the middle of the road. It was absolutely amazing to see such organized chaos.
I arrived at Pronto Promo, my host company. I was greeted by everyone with smiles and handshakes. I set my laptop down and immediately got to work. The shop was empty except for the equipment I had shipped in. The room was 40’x40’, freshly painted and the floor was waxed. I could tell that everyone there worked very hard to get things ready for me.
The project at hand was to set up a line to manufacturer a sort of shadow box about 2’x 2’ to display cigarettes for a large tobacco company. Their order was for 12,000 pieces and more if the production went well. After walking around the campus and assessing the situation I came to the conclusion that this was going to be a larger task than I had anticipated. The language barrier, the tools available and the access to what I would need in a hurry was defiantly going to slow me down. Lowes or Home Depot have not infiltrated this area yet and everything in purchased at a large market in the city miles away. It literally took hours to make the trip for a handful of supplies.
The setup took several days and a few more to work the bugs out. Most of the equipment was new to the staff and they were all excited to get started. I installed a 10” table saw with a power feeder, an Edgebander, two OMGA miter saws and two Hoffmann Dovetail machines. It was great to be able to draw from past experiences to help them build fixtures and procedures to accomplish the task. We also set up pneumatic staplers, a few small router tables, a horizontal panel saw and an Oxygen / Hydrogen unit to flame polish an acrylic insert.
By the time I left the line was producing 75 units a day, I hear now they are up two 350 a day and still growing.
It may seem like a simple task to you and I but this is not something that is the standard in Pakistan. This small shop will set this company apart from all the rest in the area and open doors for them that otherwise may not have been opened.
The lifestyle in Pakistan is obviously much different but the people are the same as we are. They are friendly, hospitable, eager to help and hard working. They have the same day to day struggles that we have and for some reason our Media goes out of their way to show only the bad there. I’ve been told that almost all of the funds from our Government never make it past the Government officials there with is sad. I have plans to return in February to help them with another project.
My hopes are that I have changed their view of Americans as much as they changed mine of Pakistanis.