For our non-French speakers, I want to pick up where Helena left off on Day Four of the trip and talk about our trip to the Dead Sea (featuring haikus):

The Dead Sea Works

At the Dead Sea Works
Everywhere you look:
Red and white potash
 

After descending in the cable car from Masada and enjoying some lunch in the valley below, we made our way to the Dead Sea Works, a large chemical production and collection plant at the southern end of the Dead Sea. The plant was founded in 1930 as Palestine Potash, and it uses the naturally high levels of salts and minerals in the Dead Sea to produce potash (Potassium Chloride), Bromine, and Magnesium. In fact, the southern end of the Dead Sea is comprised entirely of large collection pools built and maintained by the Dead Sea Works and a similar Jordanian operation across the border. Water is fed into these collection pools through canals built from the northern, natural end of the Dead Sea. Once the water makes its way from the deep natural sea to the shallow collection pools, the water begins to evaporate, leaving behind large quantities of table salt (which is either uncollected or gathered and treated as waste) and a solution containing the valuable minerals above. This solution is harvested in a further series of collection pools by specially designed boats called dredgers, which gather the salts from the pools and bring it to the plant to be processed. The processed potash (which is often died red to mimic the appearance of traditionally mined potash) and other products are then shipped to the coast by way of trucks, trains, and a specially-constructed 18 kilometer conveyor belt. From there, it is shipped around the world for use as fertilizer (in the case of potash) or for other industrial applications (in the case of bromine and magnesium).

 

Modern Israel:
The land of milk and honey
(and magnesium)
 

This plant and its Jordanian counterpart are the only operations of this type in the world, and we were really lucky to have the opportunity to tour the facility. Not only does the factory operate in a unique and environmentally-friendly manner, but it also provides employment and a sense of community for local residents. The plant is located in what Israelis call “the periphery” – outside the densely populated center of the country – and opportunities for work are often limited for residents there. 

The Future of the Dead Sea

Collect it in pools
The water evaporates
Leaving salt behind
 

At the current rate of evaporation – about a meter a year – and with the Dead Sea’s primary source of water being diverted for use by both Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea Works still expects to be able to operate for between 150 and 300 more years. There have been discussions of artificially refilling the Sea with a canal built from either the Red Sea or the Mediterranean. Due to the tremendous expense and cross-border collaboration such a project would necessitate, little progress has been made it on the idea, but fortunately the Sea will likely reach an evaporation equilibrium well before it dries up.

Don’t Drink The Water

The Dead Sea ain’t dead
It is just really salty
(Doesn’t taste real good)
 

After the plant tour, we returned to our hotel, which was actually located on the artificial side of the sea, and had our first (and for many of us probably our last) Dead Sea swimming experience. The floating sensation was uncanny, and everyone really could sit up or lie back in the water and float with no effort at all. Unfortunately the salinity of the water made it almost dangerous to be in, and I had to run once for the beachside showers after getting just a bit in one of my eyes. On a brighter note, some of us had a chance to use special Dead Sea mud with all sorts of purported health and cosmetic benefits, and we all left the beach feeling healthier and happier for the experience – if not quite sure when we’d come back.

Tags: , ,

One of the things that has surprised me the most in Israel is how green much of the country is including the cities.

Rothschild Blvd

 

Before coming to Israel, I was aware that water was a scarce commodity in Israel.  A drive through the Judean Desert to the Dead Sea on had further driven home the scarcity of water in Israel.

 

View of the Judean Desert from Masada

View of the Judean Desert from Masada

 

Because of this scarcity Israel has become a global leader in water technology.  We had the privilege of visiting NaanDanJain, the global leader irrigation system producers.  The main benefit of its systems is that the systems use less water than other methods while delivering water more accurately and consistently ensuring that water is equally distributed across crops.

 

Demonstration of NaanDanJain irrigation systems

Demonstration of NaanDanJain irrigation systems

 

The company started on the Na’an Kibbutz near the city of Rehovot.  In 2007, the company merged with Jain Irrigation from India.  The global reach of the company – it has systems in more than 100 countries- was somehow hard to grasp in the serene surroundings of the Kibbutz where it is based:

 

Dining hall on Kibbutz Na’an

Dining hall on Kibbutz Na’an

 

 When the Kibbutz was first founded in1930, there was not any access to water and there is no groundwater below the soil.  Kibbutz Na’an seems to be putting its products to good use both in the residential area of the Kibbutz and its fields:

 

Eggplant crops on Kibbutz Na’an.  Drip irrigation lines run underneath plastic sheeting.  The plastic sheeting ensures that evaporating water does not escape.

Eggplant crops on Kibbutz Na’an. Drip irrigation lines run underneath plastic sheeting. The plastic sheeting ensures that evaporating water does not escape.

More Kibbutz Na’an greenery

More Kibbutz Na’an greenery

IMG_1463

The last day of the trip, we took a trip to visit ISCAR in the Tefen Industrial Zone, located in Galilee. ISCAR is an Israeli toolmaking company, perhaps best known for being acquired by Warren Buffett. Buffett first purchased an 80% stake in ISCAR in 2006 for $4 billion, and bought the remaining 20% for $2.05 billion in 2013. This represented the first Berkshire Hathaway acquisition outside of the United States.

While the success of an Israeli startup on the global scale was certainly impressive, I found the entirety of the Tefen Industrial Zone to be particularly interesting. Founded by Stef Wertheimer, an influential German-born Israeli, Tefen and several similar parks also founded by Wertheimer were generating an annual $1 billion in revenue in 2007. These parks were built in the Israeli periphery with the goal of creating stability by providing economic growth and jobs for these regions. This goal was particularly important because the Israeli periphery contains much of Israel’s often-disenfranchised Arab minority, who represent 21% of Israel’s population. Within the factories, Arab and Jewish Israelis work side-by-side.

IMG_1469

Despite the successes seen at ISCAR, one troubling element could throw Wertheimer’s goals into jeopardy. ISCAR’s well-designed processes were operated primarily by dozens and dozens of advanced robots. Creative destruction was very evident as we toured the facility, as many processes which previously required human operators now were handled by extremely impressive robots. As technology has improved and the cost of robotics has decreased dramatically over the last decade, it has frequently taken manufacturing jobs from humans.

IMG_1470

Over the last few years, I’ve seen first-hand how increased trade and commerce relations between Taiwan and China have dramatically improved diplomatic relations from an extremely tense position. As such, I am a huge proponent of using job creation and economic development to reduce tension and build trust. However, I wonder whether the continued creative destruction of technology can prevent this process from occurring, as jobs are increasingly taken by robots. I hope that as Tefen continues to encourage entrepreneurs to build new ventures, that there will always be sufficient job opportunities to achieve Wertheimer’s goals despite technological process.

Waking up early at the Diaghilev Hotel in Tel Aviv, a boutique hotel where Israeli artists display their art throughout the hotel, including the rooms, several of us rushed down to the lobby just in time to catch the bus.  After receiving a cheer from the other students waiting on the bus, we departed Tel Aviv to the city of Haifa.  Quickly hitting the highway we traveled northward to our destination.  On the trip we were given an appreciation of the size of the greater Tel Aviv area as it took thirty minutes to leave the city and its surrounding neighborhoods.  One and a half hours and a roadside bathroom stop later we arrived at our destination, the Bahai Gardens.

After meeting our tour guide Elsa, a lady with a thick Russian accent, we started our tour.  As we passed through security an African man searched our bags to ensure no prohibited items were taken inside.  Elsa explained that the man was one of the several hundred Bahai volunteers that come every year from all over the world each year to work at the Garden.  Following the guide, we emerged on the top of terrace of the garden complex.  The gardens, divided into 18 terraces, look over the bay of Haifa.   Each terrace is full of lush green grass and a wide variety of roses and other flowers.  Surprisingly there were very few images or symbols throughout the complex, which make it unique from other religious centers throughout the world.  We proceeded to walk down each terrace until we arrived at the bottom of the complex where we boarded the bus for our next destination.

Only a short bus ride away was Technion, the main business and engineering school in Haifa.  Immediately arriving there we enjoyed a lunch of the Israeli national dish, hummus and bread.  Following the lunch we had a joint case discussion with a group of students from the Technion.  Broken into groups of five, each team comprised of several Darden and Technion students, we started discussing the story of Better Place.  Working with the Israeli students, we broke down the business plan and identified strengths and weakness of the Better Place business plan and tried to narrow down the causes of its failure, as well as providing alternative approaches Better Place could have pursued which may have resulted in a better outcome.  We wrapped up the class with each team presenting their findings.  We then boarded the bus and returned to our hotel in Tel Aviv.

Arriving back at the hotel we took a few hours to regroup and relax before beginning the next event.  We started by sitting an listening to a Rabbi from the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Israel.  He explained his position on how the ultra-orthodox community fits within Israeli society.  He mentioned that currently only the ultra-orthodox are the only community within Israel to not have to serve in the IDF.  His explanation of this is that community not able to serve in the IDF because it is occupied with religious studies, which preserve the Jewish religion and in his opinion, protect the country from external threats and other catastrophes.  As policies are being implemented with the intent of bringing the ultra-orthodox into the fold, including mandatory military service and state dictated educational reforms, he argued that the policies will fail and life will continue as normal for the community.

The second speaker spoke about how Israel can exist as both a Jewish state and democracy.  He argued that key part of the Jewish identity was the Jewish historical narrative and its ability to be embraced.  He said that in other countries that Jews were not excepted unless they gave up the Jewish narrative and fully embraced whatever the national identity of that country was.  By doing this they would have to abandon their Jewish identity.  He said that in order for the Jews to preserve their identity and live in a successful and accepting society, a country that would consider the Jewish narrative its own would have to be created, hence the creation of Israel.  He gave several examples of other democracies that had official state religions and were successful, such as England.  He argued that Israel should be seen no differently because the national religion is Judaism and not Christianity and nations can have a state religion but still remain a democracies.

Day 11

After a long day of traveling from Israel, I was happy to land back in the U.S. yesterday. Following a deeply jetlagged sleep, I awoke at 5:30 am to a quiet house. After making a fresh pot of coffee, I sat down and wondered what I would do with my day. For no particular reason, I decided I would start if off by listening to a CD in my parent’s collection called The Greatest Speeches of All Time (I know, nerdy even by Darden standards).

 

After about forty-five minutes of Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony and others,  “A Jewish State” by David Ben-Gurion began. To my delight, I felt fully engaged and knowledgeable about the historical and geopolitical references in the speech. Moreover, I had already formed my own opinions about his assertions. After the speech concluded, I reflected on my journey across Israel, and the significance of the Israeli state. Only one week earlier, I had been sitting in Independence Hall in Tel Aviv.

 

After finishing my pot of coffee, I opened an online version of the New York Times to begin catching up on current events. To my surprise, the first article I saw on the front page was titled “Pope Endorses ‘State of Palestine’ in West Bank Visit.” Although it feels as if I have seen hundreds of similar articles during my adult life, this was the first time that I had personal context surrounding the issue. I recalled my visit to the Knesset (the Israeli legislative branch) and the in-depth discussions that members of parliament had with my classmates and me about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

After these two (coincidentally successive) Israeli-based events on my Sunday morning, I felt motivated to sit down and write this blog post… After some thought, there are two main learning points from the Israel GBE that I would like to touch on:

(i)                The experience of consulting with Israeli entrepreneurs on how to penetrate the U.S. market, and

(ii)              Understanding Israeli history and cultural significance

 

For the first point, I believe there are considerable short-term benefits from the consulting portion of the trip. By working to understand the U.S. market for one specific industry and seeing how one Israeli product can fit into that market, I further solidified many of the marketing takeaways from my first year. Moreover, with a relatively undefined assignment from our host entrepreneurs, I saw firsthand how difficult it could be to create a set of deliverables for a client. At different times, my group and I had many different ideas about what information we should & could provide. Although it worked out well in the end, it was a good learning experience on a certain kind of consulting with a certain kind of group dynamic.

 

When considering the second point, it is easy to use anecdotes like the two instances from this morning to show how useful the Israel trip has been for me. However, when considering a longer-term perspective as a businessman, I think that the emotional intelligence growth is the more important takeaway. Learning to work across cultural barriers, understanding perspectives based on historical precedent, feeling comfortable with a certain level of chutzpah, understanding the “startup nation” mentality, and the list goes on… are all hard to pin down to a specific moment of practicality. However, I believe that becoming familiar with soft skills in a global context is an indispensible learning point for burgeoning business leaders.

 

In the end, I am very happy to think of how useful my Israel GBE will be for the rest of my life. But right now, I am happy to eat bacon again!

 

– Bill Becker

Bahai Gardens

Last Friday we had a packed day starting with a tour of the Bahai gardens in Haifa.  The gardens were immaculate – it was cool how perfectly symmetrical the whole area looked.  We started from the top of the gardens, with a beautiful view of one of the naval bases in Israel.  It must have been 500 stairs we walked down; each level had a perfectly symmetrical fountain and garden so when you got to the bottom you could see a series of the exact same terrace with fountain.  While our group was a little boisterous and reminiscing from last night’s activities, the garden still had an extremely peaceful feel.  It was a beautiful day to see the gardens and spend some time outside.

2014-05-16 09.40.40

After the Bahai gardens we had a full class with a case study and all that good stuff with the Technion MBA program also located in Haifa.  It was really cool to meet other MBA students from Israel.  The program atmosphere was very different for them since the students at Technion that we met also worked full time and were in general much older than our group.  Gal conducted a case study class on “Better Place”, a company that went bankrupt recently but had started out with the mission to build truly electric cars at a reasonable price.  After the case study class we worked in separate group projects with the Technion students discussing what Better Place could have done differently that could have prevented their failure.

While the class and project were very interesting, what I think I learned the most from was eating lunch with the students – besides the fact that it was exciting to get to eat lunch before 2pm.  One thing that particularly surprised me was how popular the NBA was in Israel.  Some of the students I spoke with talked about how some of the playoff games last year they said they woke up at 2am in the morning to watch them!

After the class we made our way out of Haifa back to Tel Aviv!  I think many people were in need of a good nap – both on the bus and before getting to our next discussion session.  That afternoon we discussed the Ultra-Orthodox religion in Israel with Lior Alperovitz – it was very interesting to get his perspective on the day to day life of being Ultra-Orthodox and how he felt the Ultra-Orthodox contributed in Israeli society.  I found it particularly interesting that on his own he converted to be Ultra-Orthodox and that his family did not practice religion in the same way.

He also talked about the little things that are different in his daily life – like how when he moved into his new house there were so many unnecessary TV plugs and stands in different rooms that he didn’t need since he doesn’t watch TV as part of following this religion.  He also talked about how because of this all Ultra-Orthodox Jews have thousands of books in their homes.  I also found it interesting that he talked about how Ultra-Orthodox women have a lot more freedom in their choice of clothes than the Ultra-Orthodox men since they are allowed to wear different colors and the men must wear black.  I still can’t imagine how he is able to wear that black coat during the summer in Tel Aviv….

Afterwards we also had a discussion about Zionism with Gadi Taub.  I found him to be a very captivating speaker with interesting views on Israel and Zionism.  He also mentioned he lobbied against more restrictive smoking laws – I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who has voiced such a strong opinion against smoking laws given what it does to the average person’s life span.  Also because of the fact that any time I have gone to a bar in Israel so far I have been pretty disappointed to wake up to my hair smelling like smoke….

That night we had a Shabbat dinner with our group – it was great to be able to take part in the ceremony before dinner.  The food was great, mostly more hummus and pita along with chicken and fish – by this point in the trip I think most people in the group were not completely sick of hummus yet.   I think some group did not like the Kosher wine since it had an extremely dry taste.  Since I like dry wine I thought it was pretty good!  Overall a good ending to our first full day in Tel Aviv.

 

After a day that saw the Darden Israel GBE class travel from the Dead Sea to Tel Aviv, I was inspired to write the following haiku:

How will I water my crops?

The kibbutz must eat!

And we chant: More crops, per drop!

While I am not sure how popular haikus are in Israel, our visit to the NaanDan kibbutz on the outskirts of Tel Aviv helped convey the important role that kibbutzim continue to play not only in Israeli Jewish society, but also in business.

The kibbutz itself was drastically different, in almost every possible way, from the Dead Sea hotel area that we had just left. Gone were the Russian tourists, replaced by humble, entrepreneurial Israelis. The sandy landscape had gotten greener, particularly within the Kibbutz, with its well-manicured spaces and modest buildings. The Kibbutz itself is a Jewish community in which members pool their resources and contribute to the betterment of the Kibbutz. We took time to tour the Kibbutz, see some of the members’ houses, the schools and other communal areas.

GBE at Kibbutz

As the haiku references, however, the Kibbutz is not merely just an enclosed living community. The kibbutz must eat, and must be able to sustain itself. Interestingly, many kibbutzim have made the decision to sustain themselves by starting businesses. The NaanDan kibbutz has focused on the issue of water scarcity in Israel and beyond. Starting in 1959, the kibbutz developed a variety of technologies for micro-irrigation, a crop irrigation method that relies on frequent, direct application of water to the roots of plants. In a country in which most available water is in the north and most farming the south, efficient irrigation has been critical for ensuring that Israel is self-sufficient for 95% of its food requirements.

zach and eggplant2

This focus has had a direct benefit for the kibbutz, which grows its own food, but has also enabled the kibbutz to create a global water irrigation company. After developing and selling irrigation technologies solely through the kibbutz’s NaanDan irrigation company, it merged with Jain Irrigation Systems in 2007 to become NaanDanJain. As a result, NaanDanJain was positioned to use Jain’s global distribution networks to expand further. The company now has a wide offering of efficient and drip irrigation systems that are used to save water, increase crop yield, and enable more sustainable farming. What started out merely as a way to improve efficiency in the kibbutz’s own community has grown into a global irrigation market leader.

As we toured the modest kibbutz it was hard to reconcile the idea that it was at the center of such an innovative and large global business. Visiting the kibbutz’s fields of eggplants, citrus, corn and sunflowers, a NaanDanJain director led us in a chant that has undoubtedly kept the company focused on success: “More crops, per drop!” Although this could indeed be a catchy tagline for this successful company, it also evokes the ideals of simplicity, collaboration, and modesty on which the kibbutz community system stands.

Driving north to the Israeli Airforce base, the first stop on our itinerary for today:

Sara, our tour guide, points out the northern portion of the wall separating Israel (and us) from the West Bank. She’s done this a few times and the story remains the same—but what remains interesting to me is that she continues to bring it up every time we see the wall. At first, I thought she was simply being a thorough tour guide. But it hits me today that she doesn’t seem to be telling us about the wall in her role as our guide—she doesn’t, as an analogous counterexample, tell us repeatedly about JVP every time we see a new Israeli business. Her story now seems to me more an indication of how the Arab-Israeli conflict must permeate the daily thoughts of Israelis, as well as Arabs in the West Bank.

This wall is a scar on the land—a constant reminder of the conflict—and Sara reminds us, in her own way, that it should be continually reconsidered.

A street sign to “Nazareth” piques my interest:

As a cradle-Catholic, I grew up learning from the Gospels about some of the sites we’ve visited on this trip. My excitement at seeing the names of places like “Nazareth” and “Jerusalem” on street signs perhaps underscores my naiveté about modern Israel and suggests how much more there is for me to learn about the Holy Land.

I learn a bit more during our visit to the Airforce base:

A young Israeli officer (pilot), perhaps about 30 years old, the equivalent in terms of time served of a senior Captain in Marine aviation, escorts us from our bus to his squadron’s ready room. This is where the pilots receive intelligence and operational briefings before their missions. We start, just as one might on a visit to a Marine squadron in the US, with a “moto”-video (motivational)—I wonder if this is a phenomenon among pilots that occurs naturally across cultures…or, if like the Israeli F-16s, this behavior is also an American export.

We learn about the mission of the Israeli Airforce, primarily strategic defense of borders as well as air-to-ground support in certain cases. We learn about the constant threat of violence under which Israelis live—range rings of rockets fired by terrorist organizations wrap around the whole of the Israeli public.

But what we learn on this visit from an entrepreneurial and business perspective is most interesting to me:

Despite appearing to be our peer in every way—age, appearance, just newly married, even attending his own executive MBA program—this officer has had a vastly different experiential education in entrepreneurship: he has made thousands of unique managerial decisions in his career, each one teaching him about himself and his capabilities.

He has managed significant tradeoffs between risk and reward, operations/logistics and strategy, marketing and reality, welfare and purpose. And it is evident, from the stories he tells us and the videos he shows us, that he has made these decisions under the uniquely life-changing responsibility and realization that he has held the lives of men in his hands—those of his subordinates, peers, seniors, and those of his enemies and their families.

He has grown up quickly.

He has learned that any failure short of dying creates the opportunity to learn something new and to move forward.

He is optimistic, because he’s had to be—and he is comfortable in his own skin.

And so as we leave the Airforce base, it is no wonder to me that Israel is the Startup Nation. With the environment here, the wall indicative of the geopolitical situation, the constant threat of existential conflict, and the systemic IDF draft designed to combat that threat—Israelis, especially the vast majority who serve their country militarily, have had the opportunity to become comfortable with chaos:

To make decisions in uncertain conditions.

To manage risk while taking it.

To embrace difficulty as a driver of innovation.

To understand failure as an educational mechanism and starting point rather than as a negative label and ending point.

And to engage in “the relentless pursuit of opportunities beyond current constraints.”

In short—to be entrepreneurs.

 

–Tom Barbour

As the Only Israeli student in the group, I have a unique perspective on our company visits and today was no different. After breakfast we drove north to Haifa to visit Intel Israel, and on our way back to Tel Aviv we stopped by Caesaria to visit a company called Caesar Stone and had lunch in the Old city of Caeseria.

Intel Haifa

The story of Intel in Israel started 40 years ago. The team then consisted of CEO Dov Forman and 4 other people. Today, Intel Israel is the biggest design center of the company outside the U.S. Intel also has a manufacturing plant (the fab has produced more than 1B chips so far.) in Israel, at Kiryat Gat – having both design and manufacturing operations in one country is very unique, and is possible in Israel due to a combination of quality workforce and government tax incentive programs.

Guy, the company representative who gave us the presentation and later took us for a tour explained that the Israeli high-tech eco-system is very strong and effective: First, the workforce in Israel has a can-do attitude, and programmers and engineers are considered to be risk-taking, innovative, and creative. Second, there are several engines that fuel the high-tech industry: government support (in R&D and investment), the IDF that produces the best veteran programmers and engineers, and the presence of VC funds, angel investors, and a lot of incubators.  This eco-system is the main reason that over 50% of all Israeli export comes from the high-tech industry.

The design team at Intel Israel was the team that brought the world the Centrino, Pentium, and Core I processors.  The company is the largest employer in Israel, employing about 10,000 people, and since it started operations, 10,000 more people were previously employed in the company. The company is also working with more than 900 domestic suppliers in Israel. The company has just been ranked the best high-tech employer in Israel for 6th year in a row.

Over the years, more than $11B was invested in Intel Israel, and $6B more in investment was just announced. Intel has been enjoying tax incentives and government grants for many years. I found it very interesting to learn about Intel development process – at any given moment the is one team that works on the current generation of processors and another that is already working on the next generation processors.

After the presentation, Guy led us to Intel’s Perception Computing Division, which is a very cool place. This division is in charge of developing a new market for its unique computing ability to “add senses to the brain” – to help the computer better interact with the user by enabling it to recognize gestures and facial recognition, and in the future also environment sensing and recognition. Intel has been working with eco-system partners in the gaming and education industry to create applications that would work with this technology. The team’s job is to work on prototypes, create demos, and understand the market potential. During the visit we got to see the technology in action. There was a monitor with a 3D integrated camera (no wearables were required) and there were few games in which we had to move objects with just gestures. Everyone really enjoyed it and it was nice to get a glimpse to the future of human-machine interaction.

As an Israeli, I was very proud to know that this Israeli team is doing this very important work.

20140519_103458 20140519_103127

Caesar Stone

After Intel, we visited to Caesar Stone in Caesaria. We started with a tour in the manufacturing plant and finished with a presentation.

Caesar Stone was founded 1987. The company is producing and selling Quartz surfaces that are used as kitchen countertops, flooring, paneling, tiles, and more.

The company is selling its products in more than 50 countries, has 2 manufacturing plants in Israel and is building a third one in Savanna, Georgia due to the growing interest in kitchen Quartz countertops in the U.S. There are many reasons for the growing interest – one is that Quartz, in contrast to granite is a more flexible material, which is also easier to work with – it is consistent and can be designed in many forms and colors.

35% of the revenues are from the U.S. The U.S. market is growing fast at 60% a year.

20140519_112423

The production process:

The surfaces are produced from 3 raw materials: Quartz (from Turkey), Polyester Resin, and sands and powders.

  1. Trucks full with Quartz from Turkey arrive to the plant
  2. The Quartz is stored in silos until it is fed into the feeding system, where it is cut, weighted, and set as batches in a conveyor belt to the mixer
  3. In the mixer the raw materials are mixed with water and pigments to get the desired texture and color.
  4. The mixture is unloaded onto a conveyor belt where the crumbs and clumps are set as a “cake” on a conveyor belt to create a sheeting effect. The cake is pressed and compressed from 30mm to only 20mm in a process in which the air that is captured between the particles is removed.
  5. Then the compressed surface is moved into the oven where it is heated for 30-40 minutes.
  6. The finished sheet gets a unique I.D sticker and is ready to go into the finishing process.
  7. In the finishing process both the bottom and the top are calibrated and the top is polished.

Very cool process, and a very cool company.

Tags: , , ,

Friday May 16

It has been a full since the official start of the trip last Saturday and we had one of the most eventful days of our trip today. I guess we were trying to make the most of our time before the start of Shabbat :).

We started early from our hotel in Tel Aviv and left for Haifa in Northern Israel. It was a fun drive along the Mediterranean coast. Our first stop in Haifa was the Bahai Gardens. I have to admit that I did not even know about the Bahai faith before this trip and I was surprised to learn that Israel was the home of yet another religion. The 19 different levels of the Bahai Gardens are build along the slope of mount Carmel and I was very happy to know that we would be walking down from the highest level instead of climbing from the lowest one :). The views from the top were majestic with all the levels of gardens seemingly going all the way down the township which then continued down the slopes till the port of Haifa.

 

20140516_022738

From Bahai Gardens, we went to Technion campus for a joint class with the MBA students there. Technion has interesting architecture and it reminded me of my visit to MIT campus last year. The students at the Technion were mostly from their part time MBA program but they were very excited to do a joint case method class with us. Unfortunately, the case method was new for Technion students and the Darden students completely dominated the conversation. But the Technion students took it in good spirit and were extremely co-operative when we worked in teams to prepare our presentations on the case. The case was about Better Place car company, which tried to innovate the business model of automobiles by selling electric cars with a usage based payment plan somewhat similar to the cellphone plans. After our case presentation, we had a joint lunch with the Technion students and enjoyed Hummus and Falafel with our Israeli counterparts.

20140516_033722

 

After the lunch with Technion students, we headed back to our hotel in Tel Aviv as we had two very interesting guest speakers lined up for the evening. Our first speaker was Lior Alperovitz, who spoke to us about the Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel. The Ultra-Orthodox are a growing minority within the Jewish Israeli population. The ultra-orthodox jews strive to preserve the traditional jewish ways. The men in the ultra-orthodox community spend their time studying the Torah and are not required to participate in the mandatory service in the IDF. This seems to be a cause of rift between the ultra-orthodox community and the rest of the Jewish population in Israel. So to get the counter argument, our next guest speaker was Gadi Taub, a “secular Jew”, who spoke about Israel as a democratic and Jewish state. He spoke about the Zionist movement, which led to the creation of Israel. He emphasized the need for the Jewish Israeli state for the Jewish population to be able to maintain its identity. However, he maintained that Israel was a secular country where the minority populations were all allowed to follow religions of their choice.

After all this, we had the perfect event planned to wrap up the busy day. We gathered together as a group and sang Shabbat prayers and followed the traditional ritual of a communal meal. It was a unique experience to enjoy some delicious middle eastern dishes as a group and preparing for a day of Shabbat (cessation). So until next time….Shabbat Shalom!

20140516_133345

« Older entries