The fact that ZwickRoell has been able to internationalise successfully is mainly due to two factors: firstly, an excellent understanding between the head office and the foreign company, and secondly, partners who understand what companies abroad need.
“I went to Singapore not as an employed managing director, but as the owner of the company. So the head office in Ulm could not simply ignore my problems, but had to deal with them,” says Roell. “This helped us as a company to go international in the right way and to develop a good understanding of the needs of local customers.
Roell uses an example to illustrate the importance of this discussion between head office and the foreign units: “We needed to identify spare parts for machines we were selling to our Asian customers. But we did not have the drawings of the machines on site. The first suggestion from head office was to send the drawings back and forth, but I did not think that was an intelligent solution. So a system was found to make the drawings available – to me in Singapore, but also to the other locations around the world.
Partners such as the German Centre are important because they take risks by contributing their experience, their know-how and their reliable networks. “In Singapore, we also had contact with the EDB, the Economic Development Board, very early on,” says Roell. “They gave us excellent support in the start-up and growth phase. They understood that if the companies in Singapore are doing well, then the city-state is doing well.