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Tarik Diab – an American in Jordan

Sep 17, 2013
Tarik Diab is the Managing Director of Jordanian Coast Cargo Services. In a recent interview for The Mover he told of his journey and how his company became one of Jordan’s industry leaders. Here’s his story.


Born in Kuwait, yet raised and educated in the United States, Tarik was capable of carving a niche by exporting a simple need: By providing excellent customer service and a good standard of business practice, he was capable of dominating his position in the thriving Jordanian moving industry.

 

Tarik fell in love with Jordan during a visit to see his parents during the early 1990s and so, he certainly decided to start his career path in Amman.  Initially, his ultimate plan was to put his law degree into practice; however, he found out that the Jordanian law differed radically from that in the States. He decided to pursue a different route by getting to know the needs and wants of the Jordanian market. “So reluctantly, I put my ambitions of becoming a Jordanian lawyer to one side,“ Tarik remembers.

 

After finding work with a national shipping company, Tarik was able to acclimatise to life in Jordan. Through friends in New York and the United Nations, he was capable of establishing business relationships that would need his shipping services. In 1999, he decided to establish his own business. The clients that he obtained followed him across, because of his strong attention to detail and his positive regard for customer satisfaction.  He was able to maintain these approaches through his understanding of expectations in certain overseas countries, mainly the United States and Europe. He was finding that simple courtesies that we may take for granted in the west, like showing up on time for appointments or sticking to deadlines, were rare in Jordan. Well-travelled immigrants like diplomats and UN agents would be amazed by his services and they would then give him their priority business. Standard practice like making an offer, giving quotes and sticking to schedules put him way ahead of the competition leading Jordanian Coast Cargo Services to the top of the import/export and domestic removal sectors.

 

Jordan’s position in the Middle East puts the country at the edge of one of the world’s largest conflict zones. Tarik reluctantly underlines the fact that times of stability and peace don’t bring profitable times to the moving industry.  War in Iraq has seen an increase in the number of foreign diplomats and United Nation’s staff move into Jordan. The need for army supplies like tanks, other vehicles and generators have become increasingly common. Syrian refugee camps have also needed supplies (food, tents, medicine, etc.).  All of which need a local shipping agent to take control of the logistics.

 

Civil war in Syrian has affected Jordan on a large scale. The influx of refugees into the country has seen a sharp rise in unemployment. Local industry cannot compete with immigrant contractor rates. The Jordanian government allows Syrian refugees to work legally enabling them to undercut local business prices. Jordan Coast Cargo Services has not employed any Syrians to date, with a preference to employ first hand contacts and those recommended to Tarik through trusted friends. This is due to the sensitive nature of some of their work. However it is essential to him to point out that he does have good relations with Syrians and works extremely well with a moving agent based there for imports and exports.

 

In comparing working practices in the US and Jordan, Tarik says that there is a lot more bureaucracy in the US.  He laments that in Jordan red tape slows his working progress on a regular basis. He always overstates delivery times to avoid customer disappointment. For instances, in a lot of cases, a consignment can pass through customs in a matter of hours. If he told his customer that the arrival time will be three days, they will be pleased with an early receipt. On the other hand he is well accustomed to the occasional deliveries being held up by anything from absent staff or misplaced paperwork to religious holidays. All this serves to keep his mind sharp.

 

Tarik warmly reflects that his move to Jordan was the right decision. Besides the vastly improved hot temperatures, the pace of life is slower and there’s such a positive emphasis on family life. Everything is family orientated and he can get the opportunity to be himself.

 

With Jordan’s industry thriving, Tarik is ever observant, looking to the future with one eye on current events. He announces that his company is currently in the process of expansion with a new office and warehouse complex currently being built.

 

Tarik is proud to relay that since opening the business in July 1999, Jordan Coast Cargo Services now operates with nine vans and 2.5 tonne lorries, three 22 ton trailers with 25 employees including eight admin staff. He also went on to express the importance of knowing how to do every job within the company. Having started the company from scratch and, therefore, having to do everything himself, has set him in a very beneficial position to be a strong business leader domestically and internationally.

 

 

“Times of peace and stability bring no profit in our business”


Photo: From top, Tarik Diab, the new warehouse under construction.

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