Service in China: the human factor
There is no questioning the fact that China is a special and exciting market. When sales began in Asia approximately 35 years ago, Brabender Technologie had already initiated business with Chinese clients, and one thing quickly became clear: The potential for Brabender Technologie’s special technology is enormous.
When the first German extruder manufacturers started their business in China, they installed feeders from Brabender Technologie. The service remained in their hands, and since then technicians have often travelled East to operate, maintain facilities, and to train workers on-site.
The cultivation of personal networks plays an important role in the Chinese business world. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with business in the People’s Republic will recognise the importance of: First pleasure, then business, and they would know: Guanxi. This word with many complex meanings is used to describe how personal public relations are formed, and why they are important, amongst other things. Because in China, business is solely carried out on an interpersonal level. Contracts and agreements are classified as a common thread, enabling the involved parties to often deviate. Thus, Guanxi is somewhat challenging for foreigners. Similarly, so are the favours linked to Guanxi, relying on give and take in the long term.
The early years
During the 80’s, the first service technicians lay the foundation for good Guanxi for Brabender Technologie in China. Over the years they could win over the Chinese clients as partners for a long-term collaboration with expertise and experience – a partnership that still exists today. Antonio Seising, sales manager for Asia-Pacific can confirm this: “Chinese clients expect a lot, not just from the product, but also from the service. They want to be wooed in such a way that is barely understandable to Europeans. Our success here is due to the fact that we have long-term employees both in China and Germany.”
The benchmark of expectations for technical support is conceivably high: Production facilities must run seamlessly 24 / 7 for 365 days a year. As a first step, in 1997 Brabender Technologie – at that time still KG – established a representative office in Beijing. At that time, there was one employee, who spoke both English and Chinese, and oversaw continually ensuring spoken and cultural communication with Chinese clients. In 2005 followed the establishment of Brabender Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd., which was at the same time a requirement and the go-ahead for independent transactions in China.
How great this decision was, is visible now, approximately ten years later: In the meantime, Brabender Technology (Beijing) Co., Lts. provided the entire Chinese market with sales, service, replacement parts and separate parts production. At the Beijing site, there are 17 employees. Four of these were trained by the technical support in Germany. To fulfil the requirements from several client's production facilities in China and to guarantee quick reaction when necessary,
Brabender Technologie established two further service sites: Guangzhou in 2008 and Shanghai in 2011, each with two local service technicians who were trained in Germany as well. Since then the previous representative office in Beijing had developed into a spacious office and an attached production site in an industrial park in Tongzhou.
A long journey
Although the Chinese still know and value the quality of Brabender Technologie, the Chinese market is rapidly growing. New production sites are opening and entering the scene with a quick pace and new processing technologies. What’s more: In recent years, competitive pressure has also risen due to professionally equipped Chinese competitors. Antonio Seising has long since recognised these challenges and provides resistance: “We are able to offer a very structured service in China. And with our new developments we can at least keep up with the latest trends and, as a rule, remain one step ahead of the market.”
The Chinese plastics industry is giving birth to many new innovations in the materials sector and is providing the Duisburg company with the chance to accept new challenges for dispensing technology straight from the market. This leads to (new) Chinese clients, who no longer remain stationary in the low-wage sector, to bring a large amount of potential for integration with automation systems. Brabender Technologie is continuing to work on a standard China feeding line. The company is already delivering feeders for simple processing applications which were manufactured in Beijing with Chinese parts and others "Made in Germany".
Due to the successes that the feeder specialist has achieved within the food and pharmaceutical market in Europe and America, the clientele is currently expanding, and should reach China. Soon a new Brabender Technologie base will be opening in the west-Chinese metropolis Chongqing, to offer their well-known service in the region. Some clients have already begun to construct production lines in west China.
“In China, for China” – true to the motto in the future the middle kingdom will continue to play an important role in the company group. Thus, providing top expert knowledge and an excellent service structure. And Guanxi, of course.