Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Worried

I'll be lying if I say I'm not bothered by the downturn. Ours is not a recession proof industry and we're certainly not immune. Sometimes I wish we were selling rice or detergent instead.

I used to wake up to a long list of emails asking for containers in exotic locations like Moombassa, Lagos or Tema. But today, there were only 2 junk mails in my mailbox. The rest of the world must be sleeping when I was asleep. Where have all the European and American buyers gone?

My principal in the UK spoke about the smaller shipping lines that have gone bankrupt. Even here in Asia, the aggressive resellers have gone quiet due to the pulling back of funds from their backers. The smaller new traders have disappeared completely from the radar.

These days, we get more people trying to sell us containers than buying from us. The phone lines are no longer ringing off the hook like before. We used to be harrassed by impatient customers wanting to collect containers from our yard asap. Where have they gone now?

Export volumes have shrunk all over Asia, known as the trading powerhouse, and we're feeling the pinch. Thousands of freight forwarders and manufacturers in China are out of business.

According to my associates, this is not the first downturn in our cyclical industry. The last one just happened several years back but they've not seen anything like this. At that time, I was too much of an excited newbie to notice. I was just forging ahead, oblivious to the gloom around me. Still, I managed to emerge unscathed because I had nothing to lose. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

We've started to restrategise and focus on a broader client base. Yesterday we received an enquiry from a French language school who wish to put a container in their backyard. There was another one who wanted to make a containerised workshop on board a vessel. We're selling containers by the ones and twos instead of in big lots now. But still, it is better than no sales.

With more time on my hands, I am thinking of doing some artwork for my home, an area I had neglected for some time. As an individual, I don't have the power to change the economy but I can change myself.

11 comments:

WaterLearner said...

Life is made up of good and bad times. So applies to any business. When business volumne is low, it is a good chance to revisit our goals and re-energize ourselves in other areas of our lives.

Nick Phillips said...

I'm already tighten my belt and preparing for the worse. I know exactly what you mean. My clients have started calling me less and less and I have more time for blogging which is really NOT a good sign ...

Michelle said...

(((Ting))) big hug

Have you seen the homes people make out of containers? Just a thought, if things really get tough, could you branch out that way with your containers?

Amel's Realm said...

I salute you, Blur!!! You're such a creative person. Wish you ALL THE BEST in this current economical situation!

But I totally agree with you: sometimes ignorance is a bliss.

Blur Ting said...

water - Yah, when life goes too smoothly, we just drift along. It's when things like that happen, we get jolted out of our complacency and dreaminess.

Blur Ting said...

Nick - Many people are adopting the wait-and-see attitude. Things they can KIV gets canned for now. Sigh

Blur Ting said...

Michelle - Yes, indeed! We do sell alot of those container cabins to construction companies here as living quarters for the workers and site offices.

Blur Ting said...

Amel - I hope none of my debtors close shop or else we cannot collect back our debts. Some things are really beyond our control.

Michelle said...

Hi Ting

No, I didn't mean like that, I meant like this...
http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/container-home-kit.html

that's a posh version, here's a more Do-it-yourself one...

http://www.architecturelist.com/2008/04/21/container-home-in-new-zealand/

Blur Ting said...

Hi Michelle, Wow, you sure know your stuff! I have done alot of research into this before and was trying so hard to get it accepted here in Singapore but it is an uphill battle.

I brought the idea of building my own containerised office and showed them similar nice photos you pointed me to but I couldn't push through the idea.

At my parent's home, there is a huge potential to build homes like this but it's not approved by our government. Containers are only allowed if you get a short term permit from the authorities.

If I live in any other part of the world, I would surely build a nice container home!

Amel's Realm said...

Oh yes, I'm crossing my fingers so that those people who owe you can pay their debts!!! You're right that some things are just beyond our control...but hopefully everything works out well in the end!!!!!