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Once upon a time Mr. Mayo, a smart businessman who headed a three-generation-old European company producing deep-frozen French Fries and other iced delicacies, decided that the time was ripe to head for China.
So by the middle of the 1st decade of the 21st century his entrepreneurial spirit brought him to the “mysterious” Far East.
His findings were astonishing to say the least: He discovered that the largest multinational fast food restaurants had set up shop far ahead of him, that some of those chains had hundreds of outlets spread all over the country, that the young Chinese loved fries almost as much as rice. And that meant that his deep-frozen fries should certainly be in demand.
He temporarily hired a Mr. Yang, a thirty-something-year-old, as his consultant to further discover the potential of his fries in the Middle Kingdom. Quickly the wildest estimates hit the Excel sheet, far exceeding the conservative forecasts Mr. Mayo could have dreamed up, and it soon became fact that selling to China was a must. His company would quickly show a return to the family shareholders far surpassing the 3-5% growth they saw in their customary markets.
Unfortunately the lack of enough cold storage, and therefore the prohibitive cost of small shipments, “taxing” import procedures and messy logistics to move cold containers around the country, quickly made him realize that to reach the end users he had to build a production facility in China.
It was decided to build a brand-new factory at a cost of 2.5 million Euros. It would be headed by Mr. Yang, whom Mr. Mayo had come to trust like family. Shandong was chosen as the perfect location. This made sense because it looked like potato paradise: Different varieties were available within a 400km radius. Farmers were eager to sell and at very interesting prices.
Sadly many of the potatoes that reached the production site turned starchy and were no longer the quality that would provide a superior French fry to which his European customers had become accustomed.
So Mr. Yang proposed to start importing European potatoes instead, which could be further processed into a likeable fry.
Mr. Mayo had got accustomed to Mr. Yang’s business acumen and decided on the spot that this should be the way to go.
Potatoes were imported in bulk and processed into the perfect fry.
The factory seemed to operate perfectly and Mr. Mayo would visit it at regular three-monthly intervals. Mr. Yang was always at the ready to pick him up at the airport, and on the way to the factory would explain to him how some of the imported potatoes would inexplicably rot and could not be used any longer in the production process.
Sales generated enough income to break even in the second year, as was planned. Mr. Mayo couldn’t have been happier. Until one day on his return to China, Mr. Yang met him at the airport and handed Mr. Mayo the keys of the car and… the factory. He no longer wanted to run the operations because he was in need of a well deserved break. All the protests and pleadings of Mr. Mayo were brushed aside and Mr. Yang left him there in the middle of the airport parking lot.
Shaken by the sudden departure of his most trusted staff member, he headed for the factory, wondering why Mr. Yang couldn’t have informed him earlier.
The truth however was going to hurt him more than he could ever imagine.
At the factory entrance, the place looked desolate: no guards at the gate, no trucks on the parking lot, no familiar smell of cooking oil in the air. It even seemed that the cold storage area seemed to be missing… Wrenching himself through the half-opened gateway, he walked into the offices… Desks, computers, cabinets… all had gone.
Rushing to the production site, he slid open the main door, only to hear the sound echo off