Curso Avanzado de Inglés de Negocios




Read carefully the history of the company (phrasal verbs have been highlighted in yellow). A full glossary below will help you understand the text better. To get information in Spanish, just place the arrow of your mouse on any highlighted word without clicking.

Harper & Grant Ltd.

Hector Grant, about 65 years old, is the Managing Director of Harper & Grant Ltd., a British company making office equipment. In the fifteen working days or lessons to come we'll follow him and his colleagues through the excitements and problems of export selling, dealing with employees, with theft, with complaints, introducing new technical developments, etc.

The language of business is also the language of everyday life, and many “commercial terms” you meet are in everyday use. Business management is a rapidly developing science (some call it an art), and new techniques and words, very often of American origin, are used more and more in everyday business conversation. We shall be dealing with some of these words and expressions as the course goes along.

The History of the Company

The company of Harper & Grant Ltd. was started forty‑two years ago by Ambrose Harper and Wingate Grant. Wingate Grant died many years ago, and his son Hector, who is in his sixties is the present Managing Director. Ambrose Harper is the Chairman. He is now an old man, semi‑retired, but he still comes in to the office occasionally to attend some board meetings and keep an eye on the business.

The company started by making steel waste‑paper bins for offices. With the increase in smoking, these were considered much safer than the old type of basket made of cane or straw, because there was less likelihood of fire (but, strangely, we still continue to use the expression “waste‑paper basket”, as well as “bin”). Old Mr. Grant, the present Managing Director's father, put the business on its feet when he captured a big contract to supply government offices with steel waste‑paper bins. He always said that luck, or happy coincidence, turned a business into success or failure. He was rather like Napoleon, who always asked if an officer was lucky before giving him a higher command. Mr. Grant Senior used to tell the story that, in the week before he landed his contract, a cane wastepaper basket had caught fire in a government department, the fire had spread rapidly and destroyed a number of irreplaceable documents.

From waste‑paper bins, Harper & Grant began to manufacture other items of office equipment: desks, chairs, cupboards, filing cabinets and smaller objects, such as filing trays, stapling machines and so on, until now when there are fifty‑six different items listed in their catalogue.

The factory consists of workshops where the actual making of a desk or filing cabinet is done. These are divided into the Tool Room, Works Stores, Press Shop, Machine Shops, Assembly Shop, Paint Shop, Inspection, Packing and Despatch Departments. There is also the Warehouse, where finished articles are stored pending.

The firm has a history of slow, steady growth. Hector Grant firmly believes that he knows the best way to run a business. However, Peter Wiles, who joined the company six years ago and is Production Manager, and John Martin, appointed two years ago to be Sales Manager, are much more adventurous. They want to treble Harper & Grant's business over the next few years and are certain that, with modern business techniques and increased exports, they can achieve this goal.

A small business cannot afford to have on its staff experts in every modern management technique. It usually hires expert advice from outside consultants. On the other hand, it is important that members of a firm's management are aware of the more sophisticated techniques they might call on to solve particular problems. Inevitably, while this changeover from the old way to the new is taking place, there are often difficulties and conflict. But Harper & Grant Ltd., like their rivals, must get right up-to-date and enlarge their business, or they will be outpaced by a firm whose business organisation is better than their own.

Managing Director:
the executive director in charge of the day-to-day running of a company (Director Gerente);
colleagues: co-workers, fellow workers (colaboradores);
to deal with
: to occupy with, to manage a problem (ocuparse de, hacerse cargo de);
the act of taking something from someone unlawfully (robo) - thief (ladrón);
: a statement describing something wrong
(queja, reclamo);
to go along
: to continue
(continuar, progresar);
Ltd. (Limited)
: A limited company is one that has legally a limited responsibility; therefore, the shareholders are not individually or personally responsible for its actions
(SRL - Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada);
in his sixtees
: aged between sixty and seventy
(sesentón, entre los 60 y 70 años);
President. The officer who presides at the meetings of an organization (Presidente del Directorio);
: on the point of retiring
(próximo a jubilarse);
: from time to time
(cada tanto, de vez en cuando);
board meeting
: a meeting of the Board of Directors, the group of organisers in control of a business
(reunión de directorio);
waste-paper bin
(also, waste basket): a container with an open top for discarded paper and other rubbish
(papelero, cesto para papeles);
cane or straw
a strong flexible stem as of bamboos, rattans, or sugar cane (caña o paja);
probability (probabilidad);
to supply
: to provide
(abastecer, suministrar) - supplier = provider (proveedor, abastecedor);
lack of success (fracaso);
to catch fire
to start to burn or burst into flames (incendiarse);
filing cabinet
office furniture consisting of a container for keeping papers in order (archivo);
(also stapling machine):
a machine that inserts staples into sheets of paper in order to fasten them together (abrochadora);
: s
mall workplace where handcrafts or manufacturing are done (taller);
tool room
: place where highly skilled toolmakers are employed in making tools for mass production on press operations
(sala de herramientas);
assembly shop
: workshop where the different
parts of a product are put together to form a self-contained unit (taller de ensamblado o montaje);
waiting for sale (pendientes para la venta);
steady growth
: firm development
(crecimiento uniforme, constante);
Production Manager
: the man in charge of production, responsible for coordinating all the factors such as, stock levels, labour and use of machinery, so that the goods will be produced when required at a minimum cost
(Gerente de Producción);
Sales Manager
an executive in charge of promoting sales of the company goods (Gerente de Ventas);
to treble
to make three times more business (triplicar);
to achieve this goal
: to fulfill this objective
(lograr este objetivo, alcanzar esta meta);
to be aware of
: to learn
about (estar al tanto de);
to call on
to have recourse to or make an appeal or request for help or information to (recurrir a);
an event that results in a transformation (transición);
reflecting the latest information or changes (actualizado, al día);
to enlarge: to expand
(expandirse, ampliarse, agrandarse);
to be outpaced
: to be surpassed in speed


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