Messenger - Vol. 1, No. 1, Page 22
Fall 1991
Alumni Profile; Helping Ecuador build for the future

     Irwin N. Duncan, Delaware '47, loves to build. He proudly shows
off his home in downtown Wilmington, Del., that he remodeled himself
and the deck he is adding to the top floor. And he is willing to share
his nearly 41 years of experience in the home-improvement business.
     Following his retirement in 1988 as senior vice president,
secretary and treasurer of Brosius-Eliason Co., a chain of four
home-improvement stores, Duncan signed up as a volunteer for the
International Executive Service Corps (IESC) at the suggestion of a
friend.  A year later, IESC called Duncan and asked if he would be
interested in going to Guayaquil, Ecuador, in the spring of 1990.  "It
sounded like a great opportunity, so I went," he says.
     IESC, a non-profit organization based in Stamford, Conn., sends
retired American business people to developing countries to consult on
upgrading management skills and improving basic business technologies.
 Since 1965, IESC has completed more than 12,000 projects in 90
     Duncan's job was to advise Joyce de Ginatta, the owner of
Ferrisariato C.A., with the organization and operation of a recently
opened "do-it-yourself" hardware store.
     Construction in Ecuador is a 24-hour business.  Crews work day
and night to get buildings finished. All new buildings are
poured-concrete because of a terrible termite problem.  Therefore,
dimensional lumber, such as 2-by-4's, is not in demand.
     "Do-it-yourself" building is relatively new in Ecuador.  Duncan
advised de Ginatta, who had recently entered the retail market with 25
years' experience in wholesale importing, on ways to make the
customers more at ease.
     Duncan discovered a lack of some services American consumers take
for granted, such as credit and availability of items. To make the
Ferrisariato store more consumer-friendly and cost-effective, Duncan
had to address basic policies, such as returning merchandise for
credit, store credit for preferred customers and store security.
     When Duncan found that the store spent large amounts of money on
cameras and monitors, he suggested installing fake cameras in some
areas in the new stores as a cost-saving measure. The electronic eyes,
however, were only part of the store's very tight security system.
Duncan estimates there were more than 15 security guards, some toting
pistols or rifles. Customers' vehicles, loaded with large items, such
as bags of concrete, were subject to two checks.
     While Duncan reassured the company that the large store's design
was "fantastic," he advised management how to display merchandise that
is often bought impulsively.  He also helped lay out the entrance for
the firm's second store and consulted with an architect on plans for a
third store.
     Duncan also discovered that the store's advertising program
needed attention.  He recommended advertising circulars, like those
inserted into Sunday newspapers, when he discovered that such devices
are not used in Ecuador.  After Duncan shared copies of
Brosius-Eliason circulars, Ferrisariato hired an advertising firm to
work on the idea.
     Duncan has no immediate plans to work with IESC again. "If they
call me and I like the assignment, I'll go, but there really aren't
that many countries that need my area of expertise," he says. "Working
in Ecuador was a learning experience for me."
                                   --Brook Williams, Delaware '91