Back in 2014, my friend HF called me sounding desperate. One of his right hand men in one of his businesses, dabbling in dimension stone (the ones you see on feature walls and kitchen and bathroom counter tops) left unexpectedly and HF asked for my help to take his place for the time being as a Business Operations Manager (BS Manager in short) and later as Senior Business Development Manager (SBDM). He told me convincingly this will be a platform for me to grow in my career and the stone business is very interesting and all that BS. Since I was idling (pun intended) at the time, I decided to give it a go since I had nothing to lose and much to gain (which proved vice versa later). Without knowing anything about the stone industry, I foolishly jumped in and in and in.. I was to shadow my boss and learn from him as much and as soon as I can.
I learnt a lot along the way in the stoned industry (typo on purpose). The government regulations are very strict in nature. Licenses and approvals are a must and me being the BS Manager, is my duty to make sure all of these are in place. I also traveled about 4 hours to and fro every other week to the stone quarry doing all kinds of things from operations to management. There is also the government departments that need to be dealt with. It was a one-man show with me being the only person running it. My designation on my name card says “Senior Business Development Manager”. I felt that my paycheck does not match the designation. However, I do understand this company that I am working for is a small struggling company, so I did not bitch much about my paycheck just yet. My intention was to grow with the company. There was a problem though. The company wasn’t growing at all.
I felt that there was a lack of commitment from the management to the shareholders and vice versa. There was no proper report structure so naturally the existing shareholders are jittery about additional funding. Once a reporting structure was established, the shareholders harp on the past where no report was given. So the funding never came. The bitter truth finally set in. The funding is never going to come from the existing shareholders. I realized this guys are entrepreneurs. They do not have the financial stamina to be in the stone industry. They are looking to make quick money and this is never going to happen in the stone industry.
So the management decided to look for external funding. Again it became my job to come up with forecast spreadsheets (which turned out to be spreadshit later) to entice new investors to put some money in the company but again this was a futile attempt because everyone I met in this stoned industry are a bunch of cunning and unrefined personalities who only think about making the highest profits possible without the slightest care to preserve their integrity or their credibility and for that matter, the goodwill of the people around them.
What about my boss? He is an aspiring stone industrialist and he knows all the processes from quarry to ready built. Just like from farm to table. I admire his enthusiasm. He is typically a field guy, so staying in the comforts of the office is a big no. He can drive for hours and not get tired. He can feel every piece of stone slabs for cracks and fissures. He can talk for hours at end on technology to repair stone cracks. He had great ideas and dreams but without money, these ideas will just be idle talk. In 2018, when his enthusiasm burnt out and so did my paycheck, I decided it was time to leave.
What do I think about the stoned industry? It is not for me. I can’t be feeling every stone slab to see if they are smooth or not or to deal with people who think they can outsmart me. It is just too tiring. I must be getting old I guess.
Lesson learnt: In the stoned industry, you need to be a billionaire to be a millionaire.