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Thousands of recently unemployed people here and abroad are reinventing their professional lives and searching for new career directions. The notion of being a pioneer and “going global” also appeals to many people who recognize the interconnections of the world economy, or anyone looking for fresh opportunities in the workplace.
In STARTING FROM SCRAP: An Entrepreneurial Success Story (Burford Books; March 26th, 2010; $25.00), successful entrepreneur and CEO Stephen Greer tells his story of almost twenty years in the rough and tumble scrap metal recycling business in Asia.
Moving out to Hong Kong at only 24 years of age with no prospects, he founded Hartwell Pacific and grew the business into a $250 million scrap metal recycling company with over 200 employees and offices in more than 7 countries worldwide including Hong Kong, China, Thailand, The Philippines, Malaysia, The United States, and Mexico.
Like many ambitious young college graduates, Greer initially dreamed of landing a job as a trader on Wall Street. Yet in 1993, with no offers due to a deep economic recession in the United States, Greer bought a one-way ticket to Hong Kong to take advantage of the explosive growth of the emerging Asian markets. His story is filled with adventure and romance, fantastic successes and crushing failures, as Greer transforms from an inexperienced businessman into a seasoned entrepreneur and battle-hardened executive of a multinational corporation.
Greer tried his hand at an enormous array of products such as Levis jeans, chicken feet, ornamental gifts, hairnets, and even glue, before finding his niche in metals, importing scrap commodities for an ever-hungrier Asian economic engine. His company, Hartwell Pacific, eventually became a significant player in the global scrap-metals trade, and was acquired by a public Australian steel powerhouse in 2005.
A few of the many lessons Greer learned about business and being an entrepreneur:
- Recessions can Provide Opportunity – It was the recession of 1993 that first drove Greer to explore the potential of Asia, and the subsequent Asian Economic Crisis of 1997 that enabled him to take advantage of low labor costs, cheap equipment, and weakened competitors to build Hartwell Pacific into a leading scrap-metal player. Though many see only despair in an economic downturn, Greer shows how to find opportunity.
- Step Off the Traditional Path – Greer makes a great case for striking out on your own and being a master of your own destiny. While many of his classmates were slogging through 60-hour-a-week accounting jobs or fighting to climb the corporate ladder, Greer was traveling all over the world having wild adventures, including being toasted by the mayors of cities in China, trading copper in Kuwait, and receiving death threats from competitors in Thailand, and still managed to become a millionaire by the age of 28.
- Success Comes from Within – Even when corrupt general managers
embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company, unscrupulous suppliers swapped stainless steel shipments for worthless lead, and other cases of systemic fraud brought Hartwell Pacific to the brink of bankruptcy, Greer’s ingenuity and unshakeable confidence enabled him to navigate the crises and succeed.
Starting from Scrap is the story of how Stephen Greer launched Hartwell Pacific and is a fast-paced adventure interwoven with valuable business insights. Despite many setbacks, Greer persevered and his experiences will help others achieve success in their new ventures.