Slovak firms not ready for Balog's suggestions
Although I agree with just about everything that Mr. Balog says [Balog: Firms need fewer workers, more marketing" by Ed Holt, Vol. 6, No. 15, April 17 to 23] I would be cautious about the idea of "fewer workers".
It works fine in highly advanced (economically and industry-wise) countries, however in Slovakia, where unemployment is often at the double-digit level, I don't see it as necessary - yet.
It's always useful to make a company as lean as possible to become more productive. In the Slovak case, where the manpower cost is still relatively low, it is not the prohibitive cost of the product, but rather its high quality, the high and aggressive marketing skills of its owner, the high "visibility" of the company, and so on, that are the attributes that sell Slovak products.
A small example of a nightmarish experience of one Slovak-Canadian businessman: I found a certain attractive textile product in Slovakia (as far as its looks quality and price were concerned) and decided to start importing to Canada.
First I contacted Company A (I won't mention the names of either the firms or persons) and opened up lines of communication. Apparently, the company was in a state of re-structuring, so I couldn't get any samples from them, prices... whatever I needed to start my marketing in Canada.
After a year or so, the company even quit responding to my e-mails so I contacted Company B. This company's rep, although the company had the product that I wanted, was so slow in responding to my opening letter that after about three months I asked him sarcastically if he expected me to get on my knees and beg in order to buy his merchandise. Of course, that was the end of the relationship.
Company C was really helpful and told me that they handle a wide assortment of the fabrics that I wanted. Unfortunately, they said, I would have to deal with their Czech head office. I did and since then I have been doing business with the Czech Republic.
Still wondering about fly screens in Slovakia
Concerning George M. Rebar's letter to the editor ["Fly problem not serious in Slovakia," Vol. 6 No. 14, April 10 to 16], has he ever wondered what the swallows of Slovakia eat? They're not just chasing air! On my next visit to Slovakia I will save him the corpses of the flies that I kill with a rolled-up newspaper in the bedrooms of the houses in which I am staying.
This has become a nightly ritual for me in Bratislava, Martin, Čadca, Prešov and Košice, when I visit with my friends and relatives. Since I do not have George's address, I am sure that the editor of The Slovak Spectator will be happy to mail the "evidence" to him.
Meanwhile, I am reminded of my visit with a local Mayor in the summer of 1993. As we sat in his office overlooking the Gothic square of his beautiful city, I looked up and saw one of those old-fashioned tubes of sticky paper hanging unrolled from the ceiling. On it were stuck about 100 flies and circling it were a dozen more. What kind of impression does such a scene make upon a visitor from the West? Wouldn't it make more sense to purchase a screen for the open window?
In any case, keep up the good work.
Angry about 'marginalised' Slovak Communists
Concerning your Jozef Ševc ["The Last Word - Slovak Communists feel marginalised" by Martina Pisárová, Vol. 6, No. 15, April 17 to 23] I am sorry for being really angry at statements made by this communist concerning "some mistakes in the past", which belittle the tragedies of thousands and thousands of innocent people. I know your good intentions but please, don't give them a platform.
My late father suffered in communist concentration camps in the former Czechoslovakia for 14 years. He was beaten, tortured, deprived of basic human needs by [people], such as this [man's] father-in-law, Vasil Biľak.
Please, pass on this message from me and many, many other people with a similar background from abroad to him and his immoral, evil party. I'll stop short of saying that I hope they'll burn in hell...
by request of author
1. May 2000 at 0:00