Bainbridge Island man with a Ukrainian energy company pivots to aid delivery
Ukrainians are in dire need of relief supplies to help them survive the recent Russian invasion. Many agencies are seeking donations, but there are limits to providing aid in a war zone.
Bainbridge Island resident Dale Perry runs an energy company called Energy Resources of Ukraine. When Russia launched its extensive invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Perry went to Poland to start an aid operation. So far, he and his team have delivered $2 million in supplies to Ukraine. He spoke today with KUOW’s Kim Malcolm.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Kim Malcolm: You and your team are now buying humanitarian supplies in Poland and delivering them into Ukraine. How did you figure out the logistics of that?
Dale Perry: Immediately, we knew that there was a shopping list of products that were needed, and I had the money, my business had the money, here in Poland. So we just basically bootstrapped. We found a company that had the products, we found people that had the vehicles, we took them to the border. We knew the person that was coming to meet us, and we just physically moved the product that day into Ukraine.
The Ukrainians come to meet us at the border point. We physically transfer products from one truck to the next because the Poles don't want to put their trucks into Ukraine. While that process is going on, our Ukrainian counterpart is giving us the next shopping list, and then I go shopping in Poland.
And where is the money coming from to fund this?
From my partner, and from me. It's our personal money. We're fundraising in the U.S., and I absolutely appreciate every dollar that people have given to us, which is about $200,000. That's in addition to what my partner and I have put in. What I'd like people to understand is that every dollar that is donated to us is delivered in Ukraine, dollar for dollar.
How was it that you came to do business in Ukraine, with your partner Yaroslav?
2014 was the Revolution of Dignity, and it was realized that you could start a business in Ukraine and not have to pay bribes. I've worked in this part of the world since 1997, in the energy sector, and so we said, let's start something ourselves. Eight years later, we've had more success than we've ever dreamed of.
And, of course, you built it with Ukrainians who I understand are mostly in Kyiv. Do you know how they're doing right now?
I absolutely do. We track it every day. Thank God, three more people came out today. We have young men that work in our company. They can't leave. Out of our 30 people, I would say 12 are men of that age group. The women, we're getting them out. I'm not leaving until they're out.
Is there anyone in particular in Kyiv that you think of in particular, when you think about the urgency to get them out?
Absolutely, but I can't get him out. He's not our chief legal officer but he's kind of the second guy in charge. One of my daughters who knows him calls him "Jim" of The Office. He's that kind of a character, but he's got a wife and a young child. He literally has an AK-47 and is helping to guard his apartment building.
I just hope that it's not a matter of having to get him out, but that there's a new Ukraine where he doesn't have to leave. This is the reason I’ve traveled there for eight years, these kinds of people, that are patriots. Just look at the news. I mean, how is this little country beating the big country? Because they're patriots. They love their country.
People want to help in such a dire situation, but what is driving you to do this?
We had the resources, we had the passion and the compassion, and at the end of the day the entrepreneurial ability to just step up. Like my partner likes to say, our business model is we put puzzles together. Here was a tragic puzzle that we could put together to serve Ukrainians.
You have long-standing relationships with people in Ukraine. How much of that is a part of your complete switch in your activities in the last week or 10 days?
My company is Ukrainian. I just happen to be an American. We work in Ukraine, and we work for Ukrainians, and more importantly, for Ukrainians that wanted to be part of the new Ukraine, not the corrupt past. The team that I'm with, we have the ability to deliver, and how could we not?
Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.