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The Hark Corporation - The Outer Colonies Region[]


The Hark Corporation - A Family Business


NewsFast, United Trans-Stellar, Pilgrims Rest Motels, Hydra-Cell, Port Stanley Free Press, Rosalyn Electronics, and the city of New Vegas. All these and more have one thing in common; they are all owned in part or in full by the monolithic Hark Corporation of New Tasmania.

Little is known about the Hark Corporation before their arrival in the Outer Colonies. What is confirmed is that a privately owned Carrack class Merchant, the SS Ah Lien, arrived in the Outer Colonies as part of a convoy in 2675. On board was Robert and Charlotte Hark, their two young children and a rather large sum of money. Purchasing a small consumer electronics company, they began production on high quality household products at reasonable prices. Slowly working to expand their market share, they bought into other sectors, expanding their influence. Then, in 2580, they purchased Hydra-Cell, at the time a small manufacture of power packs for consumer electronics. Many considered it the Hark's first mistake, but what was not public knowledge was that the buy-out was part of a deal that gave Hydra-Cell the capital and manufacturing capacity they needed to finish work on a new high-capacity power-cell that soon became the market standard for electric auto-mobiles and other high-end products.

This boost gave the Hark Corporation the collateral it needed to undergo a period of rapid expansion, culminating in buying a controlling share in United Trans-Stellar, a medium sized shipping line. Now with an independent way to move their goods about, they were able to undercut the market, doubling their income in a single year.

At this point the Star League stepped in, spurned into action after several complaints about unfair business practices. Many expected Hark to be hit with a stern fine or even a custodial sentence. Instead they were able to engineer a deal that saw an inflation-linked minimum price placed on all Hark Corporation products that allowed them to remain competitive without monopolizing the market. Forced to seek other areas to expand into, the Harks chose entertainment and media, buying up production companies, TriVid Stations and News Faxes across the Outer Colonies. They showed remarkable constraint in their running of these agencies, allowing the editors full control over content and direction, remaining in the background and counting the revenue generated.

The Hark's have always maintained a strict policy of passing control of the company to only one descendant, with each generation selecting the one they feel is most able to carry the burden. Extensive trust funds and high-placed jobs are made available for other members of the family, but there is always only one hand on the wheel. By 2750 that was Jessie Hark, who got the corporation in at the ground level when the world of New Jersey passed a law to legalize gambling. Quickly buying up the failing resort of Santa Vista lock, stock and barrel, the Hark Corporation re-branded it as New Vegas, and poured hundreds of millions into the first purpose-built casino resort in the Outer Colonies. More attractions where added, while the Corporation used its ties with the interstellar transport business to arrange cheap passage to the world, and complimentary first-class accommodation for the high rollers.

It was at this point that the local organized crime syndicates attempted to muscle in on the lucrative trade. Attempts were made to persuade Miss Hark to sign over control of the city to front organizations, all of which were rebuffed. This was followed by an attempt to kidnap her younger sister Amy from her collage dorm on Malloy's World. Many were surprised by the speed and tenacity her privet security detachment showed in repulsing the attack, killing five of the six gunman without a shot being fired, and capturing the remaining. Indeed, the first Amy know of the attack was when the police arrived to take the survivors into custody. From this point on Jessie Hark declared all out war on the mobsters, using the full force of her family's corporate empire to crush them at every turn. Many were surprised when Hark Corporate Security was granted a license to operate light BattleMechs to secure their factories and operations, something the local SLDF commander normally frowned upon. Several attacks were staged, but the Hark Corporation's long-standing policy of loyalty towards its employees and their families ensured that there were few cracks in their armour, and many that did appeared turned out to be carefully orchestrated traps.

Lives were lost on both sides, but eventually the syndicates had to back down in the face of impending bankruptcy and attacks by other criminal elements that had started to smell blood in the water and were starting to circle like hungry sharks. An unofficial truce was called between the Hark family the criminal underworld, upheld by an agreement to never venture into each others business.

The fall of the Star League hit the economy of the Outer Colonies hard, sparking a depression that lasted ten years. Many companies started to fail under the strain, but the Hark Corporation was able to weather the storm better than most thanks to low overheads and a vast operating reserve that allowed them to run at a loss for several years without taking too much damage. They emerged on the other side bigger and stronger than ever before, commanding a two-thirds share of the consumer electronics market and the single largest fleet of privately owned DropShips and JumpShips in the Outer Colonies.

Ezekiel Hark was in charge when the Minnesota Tribe arrived at Rorke's Drift in 2828. Living up to the family tradition of taking a risk if the potential pay-out was high enough, he authorized massive loans at near zero interest to help the refugees rebuild their lives. Heavy equipment, spare parts and supplies were provided at cost, building up brand recognition among the newcomers. This generosity was rewarded when the Minnesota Tribe awarded the Hark Corporation the contract to manufacture advanced electronics for their military, including complications systems, sensors and targeting computers far in advance of anything Fox Bay Armaments was able to produce at the time.

The good times almost came to an end in 2905 with the death of Justin Hark in the Mount Saint Vincent Disaster, an avalanche that killed almost 500 people, before he had named a successor. His eldest daughter and company Vice-President Rose Hark was the most likely candidate, but her position was challenged by her cousin Guy Hark-Price, a senior executive in one of the subsidiary companies. Forced to take their claims before the companies board of directors, Rose stuck to a purely business approach, pointing out the years of hard work she had put into the company, and how well the departments under her direct control had done. Guy countered with a series of vicious and often groundless personal attacks, questioning his cousins integrity and personal character. He also made public the fact that Rose had been born out of wedlock, the result of an affair between Justin and one of his assistance shortly before he met the woman who would become his wife. The family had managed to keep this a closely guarded secret, and even Rose had not been aware that the woman she considered her mother had legally adopted her when she was six mounts old.

Despite the personal anguish she felt, and the continued muck-flinging by Guy, Rose refused to sink to his level and was able to maintain a punishing schedule of regular office hours and meetings with the board and the company lawyers. This iron determination won her the votes she needed to be named the new CEO, but Guy attempted to fight on, seeking a legal injunction against her. But now with the full weight of the Corporation behind her, Rose was able to hire the finest legal minds in the Outer Colonies, and put her own law degree to work when she faced him in open court. Her two hour cross-examination of her tormentor is still considered to be one of the finest examples of its type in the history of the Outer Colonies. Without once stepping over the line or betraying her calm, collected tone, Rose systemically destroyed her cousin and his case, and the judge quickly throw out the case as groundless and threatened to have Guy charged with wasting the courts time if he ever attempted to bring a similar case again.

It took many years for the Hark Corporation to recover from the controversy surrounding the case, and the Council of Eleven stepped in to insist that they put contingency plans in place to deal with any similar occurrence in the future.

The years that followed saw a period of relative stability, with the Hark Corporation continuing to build on its existing business and expand into new areas. While many of their subsidiary have military contracts, the Corporation has never been an arms manufacture, preferring instead to concentrate on the supply and support side of things, making everything from uniforms to helping to fund pioneering medical procedures that have helped countless soldiers injured in the line of duty. They have also ploughed tens of billions into R&D, ensuring that they are always at the cutting edge of any new field. To this end they have endowed many of the top colleges and schools across the Outer Colonies, and fund numerous scholarships that have helped those who would otherwise have never been able to continue their education.

The Knights Templar are also recipients of regular donations be the Hark family and the Corporation, both financial and material.

Tragedy struck the company in 3055 when company CEO Mackenzie Hark and his wife Jade were among those killed when the DropShip Amber Cloud broke up on re-entry. They left behind a 19 year old daughter, Anna, who had already shown great promise as a potential CEO. Her shares were held in trust while she finished her education, insisting on taking a military-scholarship that required her to spend a three year tour of duty as a 2nd Lieutenant in the infantry. She turned down a desk assignment, instead spending time in the field where she gained a reputation as an officer who'd never ask someone under her command to do something she was neither willing nor able to do herself. She took over control of the Corporation upon mustering out, and had continued to show the same drive and determination that has always been the trademark of the Hark Family.


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