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“Money has lured individuals to build cars on the side,” he says. “It’s gut-wrenching when you go through those experiences because these people are almost your family. It’s tough to run a company when it’s under your nose. But it’s even tougher when the company is 8,000 miles away.”
Risk is a component of any business and IAC has its share. In order to get a lucrative contract, Burton competed with a company in Dubai that produced lesser-quality vehicles. To get his foot in the door, Burton had to agree to fund production, deliver the vehicles and wait for payment 60 days later. Those were the terms. There was no room for negotiation.
Burton knew his competitor’s product was lower quality—but much cheaper. He also knew he had to weigh the risk versus the reward. In the end, he accepted the terms of the contract—and ended up with a valuable client. Burton says “gut feelings” are usually right, but always have a Plan B—and a Plan C.
Burton has learned which battles to fight, and when it’s not worth the money and time. He’s stopped filing patents because “a patent is only the right to be sued by someone” and he keeps a monetary cushion in each country to deal with currency fluctuations. He also knows contracts are only as good as the people who sign them.
“Twenty years ago I trusted and believed everybody,” Burton says. “Today, I’m a happy cynic. I have to be careful not to be too cynical. It’s a hard job, but it’s fun.”