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Our Stories in Argentina

Date:2012-02-16 Source:Sinochem Group

By Zhao Yichao

As Sinochem Shanghai assumes the Group’s pesticide export tasks, “Going out to approach the world” has been our inevitable development road. Argentina is an important agricultural country and also one of the significant regions for our business expansion, for which it is selected as the first stop for our “going out”. When Sinochem Agro Argentina was formally established on May 23rd, our business team read the line in our hearts that: Argentina, we are coming!

The company only had five employees upon its establishment. Small as it is, the company had all vital departments, for we set up a marketing department, a purchasing department, a financial department, an operation management department and a registration department. In several subsequent months, we worked hard and performed our own responsibilities. For example, we actively visited customers, submitted registration materials and had interviews with various banks to seek quality service.

My Life in Argentina

Shanghai in April was fine and warm, as it was in a season where all things on earth wake up. After I parted with my family members, I was on my way to Argentina. Before that, I had been to South America for many times for business reasons. Since I have overseas studying and living experience, I have already got accustomed to long-range flights. However, this travel was different from those before. I know at a time when my wife and I were in the second year of our marriage and when our child was still in the cradle, my leave would bring great pressure of life to my wife. Thus, I also hesitated, but understanding and support of my wife and care of leaders of the company helped me make up my mind.

South America is really far away and it is completely on the other side of the earth, and it takes 30 hours to arrive there even by the rapidest flight. For Argentina, I believe many people’s knowledge of this country is mainly originated from football or from Maradona while other aspects of the country are poorly understood. Upon hearing “Danny”, I saw Augusto and Julio who came to the airport to pick me up. Before them, I was only a child in terms of my age. When they found me, they gave me a warm hug and kept saying “Welcome to Argentina!” I got touched by their enthusiasm, and my life in South America also formally began.

Life in Argentina is not easy for those who do not speak Spanish, for which I have got myself mentally prepared. For this reason, the first thing I did after I arrived was ask my local colleagues to bring me to the nearest Chinese restaurant, China town and supermarket in order to get familiar with the locations and learn some daily life expressions. Of course, I shall not forget to bring my address with me at any time. As Argentina is famous for its beef, most of the time, I buy some food ingredients from the supermarket and cook meals by myself, which could help to relax myself after intense work. In my spare time, I often call home to talk about my work and life. Whenever I think of the fact that technological advancement has replaced exchanges of letters with phone communication, I would exclaim over my luckiness of being born in such an age. Argentineans feel like buying a plot of land to build their houses, dig a swimming pool and keep a garden. They often have barbecue on the grass, drink red wine, smell faint scent of soil on the Pampas Steppe and feel the breath of the nature, which really bring a completely different experience to me who has lived an urban life for a long time.

Everything from the Very Beginning

I had lived in Argentina for more than two months before I knew it, and my another two colleagues Wang Haoyan and Zhang Min were coming. At the arrival gate of the airport, I found it difficult to dissemble my excitement. When I saw them, I welcomed them with a hug and said “Welcome to Argentina!” On our way back to our dwelling place, I told them what I had seen and heard in the past two months. Wang Haoyan and Zhang Min have similar families as me, for one has newly-wed wife and the other has a child at home. Thus, their choice of working overseas also necessitates great determination. Joining of more colleagues adds more fun to our life in Argentina.

When we first came to Argentina, we had no our own office. So we found a relatively quiet tea bar near our dwelling place to meet with each other. Our two local colleagues would arrive at the tea bar punctually every morning and servers of the bar would reserve a table for us every day to serve as our working desk. It is in such a manner that we began to work in our temporary office. Finally, we received the call from the lawyer and were told that the Sinochem Agro Argentina  had got its duty paragraph. Then we started finding our office quickly and decided upon our office location after shop around. Compared with downtown office buildings with complete facilities, our office is an exquisite little one of 140 square meters, where we tactfully partitioned a marketing department, a purchasing department, a registration department, a financial department and an operation management department, a conference room, a small common office area and a reception area, without any sense of crowdedness. We dared not delay in office fitting-out, as every one of us clearly knew that one more day spent on office decoration would mean one day later for normal office operation. So we acted respectively with a team buying building materials and one team purchasing electrical appliances. With less than one month’s fitting-out, we had our office with snow-white walls, bright windows and brand-new floor boards and carried out our work there. On our opening ceremony, the arrival of leaders of the company greatly encouraged us, and at the same time, we each knew that this was the very beginning for our development here.

A Team Making Common Progress

As Wang Haoyan takes charge of financial and operation work, he visited many banks and completed setting-up of the company’s account, and he also contacted the headquarters of the company and established rules and regulations for the subsidiary, providing significant guarantee for normal operation of the company. Julio and Zhang Min are responsible for registration work, and they have submitted registration materials of several pesticides and food registration data and finished registration and authorization of glyphosate of Xin An (Argentina) Company, which has laid an important foundation for our marketing realization in the year and independent marketing in the future. Augusto and I are mainly in charge of marketing work. Local distribution in Argentina differs from our traditional export trade in that importers generally sell products to distributors who in turn sell the products to the farmers. Since there are a great number of distributors in Argentina and we had limited employees in the early days of our establishment, we shall select a marketing mode suitable to our situations. We finally adopted the regional agent mode for our marketing, and under this mode, we divided Argentina into the three regions of the north, and the south and north of the Pampas Steppe and found one agent for each region. After careful selection and deliberation, we decided upon three agents and signed agency agreements with them, which enabled us to realize marketing of authorized and registered glyphosate in the same year.

To work and live overseas is not easy, as we have to bear homesickness, get used to local work and life and accept local culture. In spite of these, none of us has thought of shrinking. We share joys when we achieve success, and we encourage each other when we come across difficulties, for we have the same faith and dreams. I think the value of a person lies in what he has contributed to instead of what he has obtained. We shall work hard to be a valuable person rather than be eager to become a successful person.