NICOLA ANTAKLI, INTRACO CORPORATION
The road to peace in the Middle East is a rocky one, everyone agrees. But the foundation of that peace is likely simple, according to Intraco Corporations CEO, Nicola Antakli. “Two words,” he says. “Free trade.”
The Syrian-born executive has been pushing for economic solutions to complicated issues since the age of thirteen, when the idea of a unified Middle East first occurred to him. “I always saw an Arab national character, even as a child. I saw the implications of an open market between Arab nations.”
Antakli came to the United States in 1955, a time when, as he tells it, “We were loved and respected all over the world. We were less political, more committed to a prosperous future.” Taking advantage of the economic climate, he rose quickly through the ranks of Federal Mogul, ultimately founding Intraco, a thriving multi-national trade, consulting and distribution firm. Through Antakli’s leadership and vision, Intraco has mastered the ongoing development of mutually beneficial business partnerships in the global marketplace. Mr. Antakli believes that by working together cultural, language and trade barriers can be resolved, thus creating long-term business relationships and a broader understanding between people and nations.
One story he tells to illustrate his philosophy involves then-Ford CEO Jacques Nasser (born in Amyoun, Lebanon) and the late Steve Yokich, UAW president. At a dinner in his home, Antakli presented the two with a pair of swords with the sound, Arabic advice, “These are not to cut each other to ribbons… they are meant as a down payment for peace between management and unions.”
It’s a story that’s still widely told in automotive circles, and has obvious implications to the world at large.