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Tuesday, October 18, 2011 | Yerevan

A few words about Yerevan. I was surprised to learn that it is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, dating back nearly three thousand years. It lies in the valley of Mount Ararat, where biblical tradition holds that Noah built his ark. The city, and Armenia itself, have seen turbulent times, not least as a Soviet satellite but now it is the bustling capital of the country and proud of its heritage.

I have to say that I am not fully rested. The last few days have taken their toll, but I'm looking forward to meeting the Pepsi people and viewing their operation. When I arrive at the offices, Mrs. Nune Stepanyan, Marketing Manager, is already waiting for me. She introduces me to the Production Manager, Mr Daniel Ghevondian. I learn, and this was a really interesting fact, that Pepsi has only been produced and bottled here for a few months. Prior to that, it was simply imported and distributed. Later, we walk through the production area where my hosts show me their modern KHS systems, the syrup room, the water treatment plant and the large storage areas, where all five products, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mirinda Orange, Mirinda Green Apple, and 7 Up are already on pallets waiting to be picked up. There is a final surprise at the conclusion of the visit, when Mr Ghevondian offers to let me fill up the Editourmobil water tank. Needless to say I accept his terrific offer promptly and gratefully. My thanks to you!

A short time later, my next appointment awaits me at GromLLC. The General Director Mr Hovhannes Azaryan very kindly offers to meet me in Yerevan city centre so I need only follow him in the Editourmobil.

Grom LLC is a small family-owned company which manufactures PET bottles and jars in the household and beauty care sector. They also produce the contents, namely soaps and shampoos, which are mostly bottled in specially prepared bottles. Grom uses two Nissei ASB machines, both in this location, as well as in the second additional site about 10km away. During our conversation, and later during our tour, it strikes me that they really put their heart and soul into the operation.

After a final photo session Mr Azaryan asks me to just wait a moment, as he would like to accompany me to lunch. Delighted by his offer, I follow him to a wonderful restaurant which has some small private dining rooms. But the real surprise is in the shady courtyard which features a cage containing two large Armenian brown bears, which watch me quizzically. It is unbelievable! The meal itself is in keeping with the surroundings, with marvellous local delicacies and two contrasting main courses. After the meal, Mr Azaryan takes me through rush hour Yerevan practically to the front door of my appointment tomorrow with Hytex Plastic. It’s humbling to experience such overwhelming hospitality. I thank him once again and say my goodbyes. It gives me the incentive I need to write up my doings for the day.