JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Just seven months ago, Joint Base Balad's Iraqi-owned container repair yard consisted of 45 workers and a quota to repair a minimum of 60 containers per month.
Since then, the Miran Village Company has continued to exceed its production standard monthly since January. This accomplishment, however, pales in comparison next to what the company has grown into today through the hard work of its Iraqi owner and staff, and U.S. Forces.
The Miran Village Co. is now capable of employing nearly 100 workers, and able to repair more than 200 containers a month given their recent milestone.
"In the beginning we had only 45 workers, but we were still able to exceed production," said Hashim Abd Al-Amir Mahdi, owner of the Miran Village Co. "We were successful at the time even though most of the workers were new at their job and just becoming skilled. Now with better training and understanding of their job, we can continue to increase our production."
In June, Mahdi said he employed a total of 84 workers and credits the company's increased productivity to the new workers. For future months, Mahdi said production goals include reaching 250 containers per month, and growing to more than 100 employees. To meet these goals, the Miran Village Co. plans to hire and train a total of 10 new workers per month, which will allow a gradual increase in the company's workforce.
The successes of Mahdi and the Miran Village Co. have not gone unnoticed by those who work with him.
"He [Mahdi] has definitely impressed us in our 30 days of being here," said Capt. Jason J. Vivian, the 80th Ordnance Battalion support operations transportation officer and South Fork, Pa., native. "His business practices have made for a very successful business here on JBB."
While Mahdi appreciates the praise and success of his company, he credits his workers and coalition forces for all that his company has achieved.
First, he credits Soldiers of the 155th Inland Cargo Transportation Company for their willingness to supply his company with personnel and assistance to be successful. An active-duty unit from Fort Eustis, Va., the 155th ICTC supplied Mahdi with a contracting officer representative, escorts and several inspectors who ensure containers are repaired properly before they proceed to their next destination.
Next, he credits a willingness to learn and work hard by his Iraqi workers. Mahdi made clear the main purpose of his company is not to make a profit, but to allow for many Iraqis to be able to provide for themselves and their families.
Before being employed by the Miran Village Co., many of the workers had no idea of their future or how they would earn a living for their families.
With the Miran Village Co. boasting nearly a 95 percent skill rate for its workers, Iraqis are now trained in welding, carpentry, and painting. These skills are valuable to the Iraqi workers and could assist them in the future, even if the company were to disband for any reason.
"The main point of this project is to promote a bright future for many Iraqis," said Mahdi. "If it wasn't for this company, many of our workers would not know what they would be doing for work. This company has really made a difference for many families outside the wire."
Iraqis working for the Miran Village Co. earn a monthly base salary, depending on what duties they perform. Mahdi said it's not a secret that he also gives his workers incentives for reaching certain performance goals. He attributes these incentives to the company's growth in production.
"The more containers a worker can repair, the more money they can make," Mahdi said. "This is done to push my workers and shows them that if they work hard, they'll have the opportunity to get paid more. It's simple as that."
Mahdi stated that this performance incentive gives the Iraqi workers a goal to strive for and a chance to measure themselves.
Lastly, even though Mahdi believes in standard business practices, one in particular he pushes more than others is having an open business. By this, he explained that he doesn't keep any information from his workers.
Each week, management and workers of the Miran Village Co. have a roundtable of discussions regarding problems and possible solutions. These discussions also include a safety briefing, where workers receive lectures on safety and promote a safe, healthy working environment.
For future endeavors, Mahdi mentioned that the CRY and Miran Village Co. will expand to accommodate more workers and more production.
Although Mahdi is rather modest about his personal contributions in ensuring that his business is successful, he believes many Iraqi businessmen can have the same success.
He described his three standards for a successful business as having a good business plan, pay a fair salary and to believe in your workers. Mahdi feels that if an Iraqi businessman follows this plan, they can be successful.
"For Iraqi business owners to be successful, they first need to believe. Iraqis are hard workers and if you believe in them, you can do whatever you want," he said. "Before U.S. troops came to Iraq, many Iraqis didn't have a bright future. Now, many Iraqis are dreaming for a new future and are within reach of achieving their goals."