This is a story about two guys from Cleveland, Ohio, Bill Schlageter and the author Myron Stoll who tried to do something we had never done before, start a business. We did this in a country we knew nothing about, had never visited, and did not know the language—even the letters of that language seemed strange. But the key in doing this was not doing something totally new, but building on the knowledge and skills we had acquired. It is the story of how we started a wireless telephone company in L’viv in Western Ukraine and what happened in the years afterward. It is a story about a journey that lasted sixteen years, beginning one year after Ukraine gained its independence. The purpose of the journey was to start a business, but the people on that the people on that journey created a complex story.
The purpose in writing this story is to share this journey, with the hope that this story will encourage, not discourage, people to apply their skills to do something they want to do, but have never done. To do this is a real challenge because the endless variables of life make it difficult to predict success. It takes an abundance of enthusiasm and desire to sustain the hard effort. It is people who made the difference. It will become a privilege and wisdom will be gained in walking through and seeing the new garden in your life.
For fifteen years, I have been telling our friends stories about this journey. For five years they all said stop talking about it, write the book. For the past five years I have been working on this book. This story is about the journey, and stories about the place, the people and the corporations or organizations for which they worked. It is about friendship and betrayal, weakness and strengths, success and failures, and a friend who was shot.
Parts I through VI are the business story. Part VII is about Ukraine, L’viv, and the life we experienced there. The separation of the two stories became necessary to make it easier to follow the business story. However, the reader can start by reading Part VII to learn about the country and the times.
This is a life story, and we all know that life is real, which means that good and bad things happened to us. It is up to each reader to decide what meanings can be derived from this story. As we often do not judge a book by its cover, we often do not judge a life by its ending.