Choosing the right partners and business is vital to the success of a company.
Given that more than 500 000 businesses are started each year in the US alone, coupled with a 50% failure rate within the first five years, choosing the right business and the right partners is critical.
Leger recounts that a serious mine accident served as the catalyst for his first business in engine reconditioning.
Soon after starting his chemical engineering career in 1956, at the Orange Free State’s Merriespruit gold mine plant, an underground flooding accident led to the mine’s closure and Leger’s transfer to a uranium plant in nearby Virginia, where he continued working as a research engineer.
While employed at the plant, two Mauritian emigrés approached him with an opportunity to invest in an engine-reconditioning business in Virginia, indicating that they were familiar with the industry and that there was a strong demand for this service. Leger’s involvement would be limited to supplying the finances, the property, equipment and the operating capital.
However, the venture did not go well. The Mauritian partners turned out to be technically incompetent and Alain Leger soon found himself drawn into the technical and day to day operational aspects of the business.
The business was soon faltering, and even finding a suitable technically-qualified staff-member did little to rescue the company due to personality conflicts between the partners and their new recruit.
“It was a matter of using my mine salary to pay for the expenses while working after-hours from 5pm to midnight, sorting out the paper work, and so on,” recalls Leger. “It was difficult to fight a lost cause.”