Monday, August 22, 2011

Meetings in Guam

Our view from the room each morning
  Today we had a full day of meetings in Guam, leaving no time for surfing.  Things started off at 8:00am and didn’t end till out last one was over at 6:00pm.  We have learned allot about the island, base build up and cost of living.  

Typical rent on a three bedroom condo runs from $1,200 to $2,200 depending on where it is located and the view.  Some 2 bedrooms without beach views were as low as $800.  Office space can be rented for $.90 to $1.20 a square foot, and warehouse space is a bit cheaper than that.  Electric cost .35 cents a kilowatt in Guam, but back home its .09 cents.  Food is a lot more expensive here with milk costing $7 a gallon while eggs are 2.69 a dozen.  I guess the shipping costs makes some things more expensive.  We did find that labor costs here are very affordable.  A typical construction worker makes $13 an hour which is less than Missouri wages.  

 The good news is there are plenty of apartments, offices complexes and warehouse space available.  Also, the labor force is large and no one is having trouble finding local workers.  The bad news is the slow pace of the base buildup has contributed to the extra space and labor availability.  We talked to several folks who told us about numerous companies that came to Guam, set up offices, and have since shut them down because no work was available.  

Today we met with folks from DCK, Oyo Pacific, Ambyth Shipping, as well as representatives from the Guam Chamber.  All these meetings are providing us with the information we need to make a decision.  Tourism is a big industry for Guam with about 1 million tourists visiting a year. These are mostly Japanese but also Korea visitors.  The military is another key aspect to the economy here.  The Air force and Navy bases pump a lot of money into the local economy.   Adding a major Marine Corps base to the island would almost double the military presence here.  

Stan, Joe, Mark and David
Our Chamber meeting was particularly helpful.  David Leddy, the Chamber President set up our meeting with Chamber Board members,  Joe Arnett of Deloitte and Mark Sablan of South Pacific Petroleum Corporation (SPPC).  They started by giving us a very informative rundown of the base buildup situation and then did an excellent job of helping us understand how the state and local governments are organized.  They also gave us a rundown of the steps needed to register a business in Guam.

The day started out sunny, but it has rained off and on since then.  Yesterday was the same.  We have learned this is the rainy season and during the rainy season, it rains a lot! Ha ha.  They get just over 100 inches a year here.  The thing we are happy about is there are no typhoons in the forecast.  That is basically just like a hurricane.  Evidently, they occasionally hit Guam and do major damage. 
Stan and the same view from our hotel room as this am.  It's the rainy season

Overall, it was a very productive day.  While we are not hearing that the workload is crazy busy and they desperately need us to come to Guam as soon as possible, we are gathering the information we will need when it comes time to decide if opening a branch office in Guam is the right decision for us.           

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