Thursday, 1 March 2012

Codename Mustafa

Through John Rowe-Parr we also met our second Bahraini customer, Masood Mustafa, who managed a trading company near the British Embassy called Middle East Traders. Masood’s uncles were having new houses designed and built by John Rowe-Parr, who was the architect and he made the introduction to us.
Masood’s company sold all sorts of building material, equipment and furniture. Masood worked out of the furniture showroom and we went around calling on him to discuss him buying a Porsche. He drove a Jaguar XJS at the time, which was exactly the same as Inge Ashraf’s, but like hers, it was unreliable and expensive to maintain, although he did not like to admit this.
Masood fell in love with the Porsche 928S looks although he also was impressed by the raw power of the Porsche 930 turbo. I guess Masood was our first real Bahraini customer (whilst Sami Ashraf was technically a Bahraini, he was of Indian descent and educated in England) so dealing with Masood was a lot different to that of Sami.
Masood was to become the inspiration for my sales and marketing strategy that was soon to develop in our market place.
I think one of the factors that appealed to Masood to place an order with us was our ability to create a personalised car for him. Bob Grafham was a lot more creative and artistic than I, so Bob suggested to Masood to special order his exterior colour and interior leather and carpets. Between them they came up with chiffon white for the exterior paintwork (which matched Masood’s shirt he was wearing) and dark green interior (which matched his trousers). After weeks of meetings, Masood finally placed an order for a Porsche 928S and he also paid by L/C. However his order was to become the daily pain of the production manager Fred Schultz and his team at Porsche AG, Ludwigsburg.
Fred was the manager in charge of all the order processing staff for production based in Ludwigsburg and he called me up shortly after Masood’s order was placed. Apparently Masood telephoned Fred every day to get an update on the progress of his car in production! This was fine for the first few days and then Fred became agitated by this and called me to ask me to get Masood to stop calling him.
Masood had ordered chiffon white paint with full leather dark green leather and carpets interior, coupled with virtually every possible option. When we did a leather interior, we had the steering wheel, dashboard, roof lining, and door panels, trimmed in leather. In order to achieve this we had scheduled the finished car to go to the repair department after production to have the steering wheel and some other items trimmed in the same green leather, which could not be done on the production line. Well this telephone business continued for a few more weeks and Bob and I were due in Ludwigsburg for meetings with Fred and his team and so we convinced Masood to stop calling in return for us personally going into the factory to see his car’s progress in production and report back to him upon our return to Bahrain.
We flew into Germany and upon arrival in Fred’s office and our meeting with him and Mellita Krogner, who dealt with our orders, and they told us of the sheer hassle they were getting in dealing with Masood’s calls. We all laughed it off, Fred making comments like Mustafa was spending the cost of the car on telephone calls! However once we had reassured Fred that we had our customer under control he was more relaxed. From then on all correspondence between Porsche AG and Performance Cars Bahrain on Masood’s car had the title of “Code word Mustafa” on it! Who says the Germans do not have a sense of humour.

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