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A Solid Ride on German Chassis

Mingguang. As a business owner’s daughter, Ni Hongyan did not initially plan to work in the family firm. She became a teacher instead. In mid-2012 though, she decided to switch careers and join the board of the company owned by her family where, as a manager from the new generation, she was desperately needed to help move the company forward. Haomiao Fire Protection Technology Development has around 300 employees and is a leading manufacturer of firefighting vehicles in China. It owns a number of patents and from its headquarters in Anhui Province in Central China serves not only the Chinese market, but also customers in Southeast Asia, Central Asia and South America.

This career move presented Ni Hongyan with enormous challenges: How could the increasing number of employees be managed efficiently? How could the company expand its business abroad? How could competiveness be improved? The young Chinese entrepreneur found the answers to these questions at the BMWi Manager Training Programme (MP). During a thirty-day visit to Germany, Ni Hongyan learned about project, human resource and quality management methods and acquired the necessary intercultural skills. After a number of seminars and visits to German companies, Ni Hongyan recognised that although business was still going well, it would be advantageous to create a new, sustainable corporate structure. She was particularly impressed by the fact that many German companies offer their employees a wide range of capacity building options.

After completing the MP, Ni Hongyan commissioned a Chinese consulting firm to identify Haomiao’s human resource allocation and production problems and suggest possible solutions. After analysing the results, she restructured the entire company. Ni Hongyan also set up an internal training centre and began offering employees regular advanced training. She has long-term plans to transform the firm into a joint stock company and believes this is an effective way of counteracting the typical “illness” often suffered by Chinese companies, whose success rates drop when they move into the hands of the second generation.

The MP was also very helpful for current business for Haomiao. Ni Hongyan visited a total of 19 companies in Germany, including GFT, a firefighting technology company, and well-known vehicle manufacturer MAN, both of whose technology and products seemed ideal for her company. Meetings between Ni Hongyan and these two German firms revealed fruitful areas for cooperation. Just one month after she returned to China, representatives from GFT visited Ni Hongyan and concluded a sales contract for low six figures. Using a range of different GFT burner modules, Haomiao can put its firefighting vehicles through practical tests to identify and directly address any problems.

Since German underbodies are well-known for their exceptional quality, Haomiao’s board decided to purchase chassis from MAN and Mercedes Benz. Firefighting vehicles with German chassis immediately attracted customers from new markets in the Near East and Africa, who placed orders worth millions of euros. So Ni Hongyan’s company is profiting from the excellent reputation of German chassis – which are supporting its stable development.

Setting Up a Subsidiary in Germany

Yu Yajun had one clear goal when she applied to participate in the Manager Training Programme of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (MP). She planned to establish a subsidiary of her firm Amate Technology in Germany. Therefore, she wanted to gather detailed information on the ground regarding the economic climate and investment conditions before taking such a step.

Wuhan. Amate Technology is a supplier of temperature monitoring wireless sensor systems. In 2006, CEO Yu Yajun founded the company together with her partners in the Central Chinese city of Wuhan. The firm grew quickly and became the market leader for these high-tech products in China. Although her products were already on the European markets, Yu Yajun was convinced that real expansion without a local subsidiary would be extremely difficult. She was also convinced that it would be best to establish this subsidiary in Germany – Europe’s most important industrial base. This is how Yu Yajun came to attend manager training at the German Management Academy of Lower Saxony (DMAN) in the Lower Saxon town of Celle.

Yu Yajun visited various companies and several trade fairs in Germany, including the industrial fair in Hannover. By exchanging experiences with entrepreneurs from the high-tech sector, the manager had her conviction confirmed that an SME in the technology industry must concentrate on one key area. She should not try out several new areas of business without a sound strategy, as many Chinese companies do after seeing initial success.

In order to expand the business in Germany and Europe, Yu Yajun commissioned the Aachen agency TEMA Technologie Marketing AG to advise on and implement necessary measures. With support TEMA’s support, Amate Technology became a member of the M2M Alliance in November 2012. M2M stands for “Machine to Machine” and represents the automated exchange of information between machines themselves or between machines and a central control centre. The M2M Alliance is the largest association in this sector. It represents the economic interests of its members and promotes cooperation and information exchange between individual industries and companies. Yu Yajun began to set up the Aachen subsidiary in April 2013. A German team was charged with establishing business relationships with German and European customers for Amate Technology. From her own experience, Yu Yajun understood the importance of knowing and understanding the differences between China and Germany. Therefore, in June 2013, she invited her German employees to attend a ten-day training programme in China. The successful businesswoman believes that this gave her colleagues in Aachen a better understanding of the parent company, Chinese corporate culture and a different management style. A relevant experience on the ground is much more effective than simply relaying information that lacks practical relevance – Yu Yajun has been convinced of this since she participated in the MP in Germany.

Chuntao Xu – Company learning environment: aiming for intercultural management skills

Xu_Chuntao_CNThe BMWi Manager Training Programme in the summer of 2009 was an important event for Chuntao Xu and her company.

Through her training in Germany, Xu made contact with potential business partners and gained useful intercultural insights, which helped her understand why her company’s endeavours to develop business relations with Western companies had so far failed to bear fruit.

After completing the BMWi Manager Training Programme and returning to her company, Xu was promoted from her position as head of sales and purchasing to that of managing director. Her aim was to arrange co-operations with overseas companies – perhaps even German ones. Within the space of just one year, she had developed close business relations with a German manufacturer of natural ingredients for the food and beverage industry. She had already visited the Heidelberg-based branch of the company during her internship in Germany, but her new knowledge of European business practices and thinking allowed Xu to communicate effortlessly with the German partner.

Yitong now purchases flavours for dairy products from the new supplier, and in the coming year, will also start to buy flavours for beverages and ice cream.

Another company from this branch, which Xu visited in Hamburg as part of the training programme, has built a test laboratory in China. The existing contacts mean Xu’s company stands a good chance of being selected as a business partner. Xu forged even more new contacts with overseas companies through her participation in an international trade fair in Frankfurt. She now feels “particularly sure of herself when dealing with German companies”, because she is familiar with their mindset.

Name: Chuntao Xu
Company: Xuzhou Yitong Food Industry Co. Ltd, Xuzhou, China
Sector: Food industry
Position: General Manager
Training in Germany: 4 July – 1 August, 2009
Training centre: Baden-Württemberg International, Stuttgart

Zhenyu Wang – “Training for Partnership” leads to lasting contacts in the cleaning industry

Wang_Zhenyu_CNHigh-rise buildings characterise modern cities in aspiring Asia. In China, this has led to the emergence of the new and rapidly growing sector of facility management – the running and upkeep of such buildings. One of the first to provide this service was Zhenyu Wang’s Beijing company, Sincere Building Services.

Wang was offered the opportunity to participate in the BMWi Manager Training Programme when he tried to add further value to his services by improving technical standards. Wang’s confidence in German technology and products was confirmed during his four-week stay in Germany in the summer of 2009.

During the programme, he visited companies in Winnenden and Dresden, among others. He also met with several branch experts in Dresden. Impressed by the advanced German systems and products, and modern company management, Wang saw how he could develop his own company – or even the entire branch – in China.

Shortly after completing his four weeks of training, Wang returned to Germany to attend an international exhibition in Berlin. On his invitation, representatives from the Dresden building cleaning services participated in the inaugural conference of the Chinese national high-rise cleaning association in Beijing in December 2009. At the event, the German experts explained the innovations in the German cleaning industry to managers from the Chinese cleaning industry. This meeting attracted a great deal of interest among the Chinese experts wishing to establish partnerships with German companies, and to participate in advanced training in Germany.

Name: Zhenyu Wang
Company: Beijing Sincere Building Services Co., Ltd, Beijing, China
Sector: Building cleaning
Position: Managing Director
Training in Germany: 4 July – 1 August, 2009
Training centre: Baden-Württemberg International, Stuttgart

Dr Congzhang Zhou – German-Chinese co-operation in the supply of drinking water leads to joint venture

Zhou_Congzhang_CNDr. Congzhang Zhou is General Director of the Beijing ASTK Technologie und Entwicklung GmbH. The Chinese water treatment specialist company has been active on the domestic market for many years now.

In participating in the BMWi Manager Training Programme, Zhou aimed to learn about business culture in Germany. “The German experience in quality control and management know-how was particularly important to me.”

It was equally important to Zhou to come into direct contact with German companies for the first time. During his time in Germany, the Chinese engineer met with the management team of a hi-tech manufacturer of water-treatment machinery. The medium-sized company developed a special UV procedure for disinfecting water. Both sides rapidly expressed an interest in a co-operation, and subsequently signed an agreement that Zhou would develop an exclusive distribution agency in China.

He consequently set up the Jiangmen Purion Water Treatment Technology Center Co. Ltd. The joint venture will offer special environmental products, which – based on ASTK’s business profile – are attuned to Chinese demand and market. The Chinese company is looking forward to this new task: “The purification of contaminated water and development of new technology specifically for this field is a huge challenge, but also a great opportunity for environmental protection in China.”

He has already begun developing a prototype for a mobile water container to be used in emergency situations when regular drinking water supplies are interrupted. He is planning to supply the Chinese market from 2011.

For Zhou, the BMWi Manager Training Programme was a real door-opener: “Thanks to the programme, I was able to identify suitable partners to initiate progress in the field of environmental protection, which is so very important to China. The German-Chinese co-operation will advance and reinforce the opportunities for sustainable environmental policy in China.”

Name: Congzhang Zhou
Company: Beijing ASTK Technologie und Entwicklung GmbH, Beijing, China
Sector: Water management
Position: General Director
Training in Germany: 18 November – 17 December, 2008
Training centre: Carl Duisberg Centren, Cologne