Monday, June 02, 2008

Irex Ltd.

What follows is a general overview of Irex Ltd, a company that no matter how hard one tries to avoid it, just seems to cast a shadow over the events of 2003.

And yet, Irex Ltd was a legal entity only and never fulfilled any contracts in Iraq.

Irex Ltd is not Irex Corp

Ryan Manelick was gunned down on December 14, 2003 shortly after leaving a meeting at Camp Anaconda in Iraq. His obituary in Pennsylvania newspapers listed his employers as Ultra Services and Irex Ltd – mistakenly identified as Irex Corp in his obituary.

This misidentification of Irex Ltd has caused some confusion. Irex Ltd had no relationship to a company of similar name, Irex Corp of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, formerly a subsidiary of Armstrong, which earned some notoriety for its involvement in asbestos suits.

The company history starts in 2003 more or less coinciding with the split of another logistics supplier, Stratex Freedom Services, in to two entities: one American, one Uzbeki as shown in the middle of the graphic provided.


History of Irex Ltd

The story of Irex Ltd begins with the founding of another company, Ultra Services, in early 2003 to fulfill logistics contracts for the US Army in Iraq.

Through a $50,000 investment from a company working in Central Asia, Stratex Freedom Services LLC, a Turkish businessman, Mete Mutluoglu, agreed to change the name of his then inactive Turkish company, Microserve to Ultra Services. Through this arrangement, Mutluoglu would own 50% and Stratex Freedom Services LLC would own the other 50% of the new company Ultra Services. For putting the company together, an American businessman, John Dawkins, would own 25% of Ultra Services through his own share in Stratex by additionally providing “sweat equity” in Iraq.(1) Mete Mutluoglu brought in two Turkish employee managers to Ultra Services, Bora Tuncay and Egemen Çakmak.

Stratex' Chief Finanical Officer, Geoff Nordloh, traveled to Turkey to help in setting up the new company, subsequently returning to Central Asia. Norldoh was never an officer or employee of Ultra Services. John Dawkins handled sales and installation in Iraq while the managers oversaw production in Turkey.

By summer, Nordloh had heard from former Stanford Business School classmate, Albert “Charles” Phillips who read about Nordloh in Stanford’s Alumni notes. Phillips was interested in Nordloh’s work in Central Asia. While Stratex had no immediate need of Phillips in Central Asia, Dawkins was pressing his Stratex partners for more help in Iraq. After several phone calls, Phillips arrived mid-summer to work for Ultra Services out of their Istanbul office.(2) Also joining the company was Ryan Manelick, the son of a close personal friend of Dawkins. Initially intending to work out of the Istanbul office, Manelick was shifted to Iraq as he spoke some Arabic. Manelick oversaw site installation.

While in Turkey, Phillips was in contact with a former colleague from Siebel Systems of San Mateo, California, Kirk von Ackermann, a former Air Force officer who had served in Kosovo. Von Ackermann traveled to Iraq and joined Ultra Services in August of 2003.

By the Fall of 2003, relations within Ultra Services had begun to sour.

Several Ultra Services’ employees, unhappy with John Dawkins —- who had more or less pushed his Turkish partner Mutluoglu aside -- sought to create a new company, Irex Ltd. The employees sought to partner with Stratex Freedom Services LLC, later renamed TFI International LLC after the company severed ties with its former Uzbek partners.

Corporate Structure

Irex Ltd principals were originally intended to be:

Albert Charles Phillips – Chief Executive Officer
Geoff Nordloh – Chief Financial Officer
Egeman Cakmak
Bora Tuncay
Kirk von Ackermann
In addition, Charles Phillips suggested bringing in a third Stanford Business School colleague, Michael Finkelstein. Finkelstein would look into financing but never formally joined the company.

Irex Ltd had already developed its first product, a Demountable Guard Unit, designed by Kirk von Ackermann and his wife, Megan. Investors and manufacturers were showing considerable interest. Potential buyers were lining up in no small part due to von Ackermann's prior experience in the military. The product was already showing potential outside of Iraq.

The company website, www.irex-services.com, was registered on October 2, 2003. Cached pages from the original Irex Ltd website, now the site of an Internet services company, can be viewed at the Internet Archive.

In an email to Nordloh, on October 8, 2003 (2) , Phillips sketched out in considerable detail the corporate structure of what would eventually be Irex Ltd. He noted that Mete Mutluoglu was “under the impression that he is Stratex’ exclusive partner in Turkey”, and that this would need to be resolved. Even though he was essentially John Dawkins' business partner in Ultra Services, Mutluoglu's agreement was actually signed with Stratex. It was anticipated some sort of financial arrangement with Mutluoglu would need to be worked out.

The next day, on October 9, 2003, Kirk von Ackermann disappeared while traveling on business in Iraq.

Irex Ltd was incorporated in Bermuda on October 22, 2003. The company would exist as a legal entity only and would never fulfill any contracts.

By mid-November, Ryan Manelick had decided to join Irex Ltd as the company's representative in Iraq, writing an email to his father on November 16, 2003 that he and Charles Phillips had split from Dawkins. (3)

On December 14, 2003, Ryan Manelick was killed shortly after leaving a meeting at Camp Anaconda. Charles Phillips, Bora Tuncay and Egemen Cakmak continued to try to get Irex Ltd off the ground.

By February of 2004, Phillips returned to the United States for good.

By March, Irex Ltd and Ultra Services both ceased to exist.

Most of the information that follows originated from what still remains of the original website at the Internet Archive.

Contact Information

From the Irex Ltd website:
Acıbadem cad. Bayir sok. Neyyire hanim apt. No:4 D:2 Uskudar
Istanbul / TURKEY
Tel: +90 (216) 545 4610
Fax: +90 (216) 545 4602
E-mail: info@irex-services.com

Clarendon House (registered agent for Irex Ltd)
2 Church Street
Hamilton HM11
BERMUDA
E-mail: bermudainfo@irex-services.com
Corporate Mission

From the Irex Ltd website:
Irex Services is dedicated to supporting the execution of United States policy and maintaining the safety and well-being of United States citizens and personnel throughout the globe. We are committed to the highest levels of safety, product design, and operational effectiveness. Each of our employees represents our outstanding standards of customer service and corporate integrity in each and every interaction with one of our customers.
About Irex Ltd

From the Irex Ltd website:
Irex Services, Ltd. was founded and incorporated in 2003 to provide a base of operations to serve the construction needs of the United States government in Southern Turkey and Northern Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi freedom. Irex' formation is a direct response to the previous absence of regionally owned, American-staffed companies providing services in the rebuilding of Iraq after the recent war. Irex contracts directly with the United States government for goods and services in the construction arena. Irex is also available to sub-contract to foreign firms looking to tap local vendors for projects. Irex is committed to providing the highest level of service at the most effective price.

Irex' diverse management team is specifically designed to effectively provide logistical and supply support to the United States Armed Services. Irex' American management component provides a familiar point of contact to U.S. personnel, providing a level of comfort unusual in companies which are managed solely by local talent in areas of deployment. Irex' Turkish management component is able to source and sub-contract with vendors who can fill the materials and labor needs of Irex' contracts, utilizing decades of expertise in Turkey and the rest of Europe and Asia . The combination of these components allows Irex to design, manufacture, and deliver goods and services throughout the Eastern Hemisphere . Since its formation, the company has successfully won and executed contracts to provide good and services in Baghdad and throughout Northern Iraq totaling more than $10 million. Irex Services, Ltd. is a Bermuda corporation corporate headquarters in Hamilton , Bermuda and operational offices in Istanbul, Turkey.
Company Catalogue

The website originally included information about products available through Irex Ltd. such as:
Armored Protection – Steel Umbrella for Containerized Units

Containerized Office Units

Mobile Armored Guard Units This product was designed by Kirk von Ackermann and his wife Megan. More information on the Guard Unit including pictures can be found here: The Demountable Guard Shack
General Information of Irex Ltd Principals

Albert Charles Phillips - Chief Executive Officer
(Information from the Irex Ltd website)
Charles Phillips has been a sales, marketing and operations executive at a mix of new ventures and established firms in the arenas of software, telecommunications, and professional services. His most significant recent experience is at Siebel Systems where he managed the company's $10 million relationship with its largest channel partner (Microsoft). He also worked in Global Sales Operations where he architected Siebel's Global/Strategic Accounts program, and served as an Engineering Operations manager, supervising 1000+ engineers in the release of the latest version of Siebel's suite of Customer Relationship Management software (v. 7.5). Prior to Siebel, Charles was director of Business Development for Certive Corporation, a small business application services provider. At Certive, Charles was solely responsible for the relationship and strategic initiatives with the company's largest channel partner and chief investor, Office Depot. Charles also spent two years as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, covering healthcare and the pulp and paper industry.

Charles Phillips has an AB in Government from Harvard University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Geoff Nordloh - Chief Financial Officer
(Information provided by Geoff Nordloh - also see About Geoff Nordloh)
Geoff Nordloh received his bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Princeton University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He received a full fellowship to study Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and completed his master’s degree there in 1993 followed by an MBA from its Graduate School of Business in June 1999.

From 1993 to 1997 he served as an officer in the United States Air Force, responsible for the launch, deployment, and operations of several communications satellite programs. Nordloh co-founded Mesopotamia Group LLC and now serves as the company’s CFO traveling between the United States and Afghanistan.
Bora Tuncay – partner
Bora Tuncay with Egeman Çakmak and Kirk von Ackermann, was to hold a 20% interest in the company, vested after 2 years. (4)
Egemen Çakmak – partner
Egeman Çakmak with Bora Tuncay and Kirk von Ackermann, was to hold a 20% interest in the company, vested after 2 years. (5)
Kirk von Ackermann - partner
A former Air Force Captain, Kirk von Ackermann, with Bora Tuncay and Egeman Çakmak, was to hold a 20% interest in the company, vested after 2 years. (6) Von Ackermann had previously served with distinction as a Russian linguist for the US Army then as an officer with the US Air Force where he was decorated for work for NATO operations in Bosnia behind enemy lines, eventually working with with an elite joint force command counter-terrorism unit that regularly briefed the White House. After leaving the military, he went to work as a manager at Siebel Systems in San Mateo, CA.
Extensive biographical information on von Ackermann can be found at the weblog, Missing in Iraq by Megan von Ackermann, see March - August 2006

Footnotes

(1) Information provided by Geoff Nordloh for the article
One Missing, One Dead: An Iraq Contractor in the Fog of War
By Susie Dow with Steven Reich, ePluribus Media, May 15, 2006
(2) Ibid
(3) Death of a Contractor: Greed and Murder in Iraq's Lawless Desert
By Dan Halpern, Rolling Stone, March 8, 2007, Issue 1021
pp 70-74, 76-69 (print version includes photos)
(4) Email from Charles Phillips to Geoff Nordloh sent October 8, 2003 10:23 AM Subject: Corporate Structure (A copy of the full text of this email is available to read here: Irex Ltd. - Corporate Structure)
(5) Ibid
(6) Ibid

1 comment:

Megan said...

Susie - your diagrams are so incredibly helpful in making sense of these complicated situations. Thank you for all your work on this entry - the background information in Irex and Stratex is great and having it all in one place is fantastic.