Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

Don't go back to the drawing board just yet
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The Independent Online

It's much more enjoyable tearing things down than building them up. Cancelling production plans is such a complete act, it adds a sense of classical unity to the mess of business life. Wholesale defeat and destruction is a tidy end for the heroic entrepreneur; he stands alone, savouring the hot dust given off by the rubble of two years' work, the smoking remains of tens of thousands of pounds.

It's also an excellent way of processing one's resentment. In response to your suppliers' delinquencies and absurdities you do what you've often felt like doing - throw everything in their faces and walk away laughing scornfully. Yes, you leave them behind bewildered and hurt as they whimper to each other. "We just didn't have the mental resources to live up to his majestic vision. Our lives will be lived in a shadow of this experience. Let us dig wells for the poor in the hope of expiating ourselves in his sight." There is emotional satisfaction there. Yes, revenge is a dish best gobbled up good and hot with extra spice.

So it is with a heavy heart and a general sense of depression that I go back into negotiation with China. I'd much enjoyed the exchange of views last week, which I thought had put an end to it all. If I can rehearse it for you now I can enjoy it all again: "Nothing, Warren, has gone right first time; ever since you quoted on this project it's been all delays and errors. Your company has taken months to do what should have taken weeks, and weeks what should have taken minutes. You've splashed solder around our EU-certified circuit boards and added primitive, back-country, half-price components to our elegant, first-world circuitry. You refuse even to offer a guarantee on the units! You say you have quality control but you refuse to guarantee the quality of the work! "

If it seems I've been reckless and appointed some hole-in-the-ground company with a man, a press and a three-legged dog, I should say that it has branch offices and German clients and makes millions of units a year.

And all credit to the lads. Warren's been a very fine fellow throughout this. He's done everything he can to keep me going, and he refuses to give up even now, curse him. He'll make this thing. He'll get my investment back. He'll requote on an initial production run of a quarter the original run. That was my last line of defence. I assumed they'd refuse to start their machines up for such a pitiful production run. Maybe they're no different from us. Maybe they need the money.

Warren's determination is pathological. Psychotic, even. I've started to dream of him coming after me with his Chinese chopper.

Still, you never know, it might yet all collapse of its own accord.