Baden corporate culture in practice

Characteristics of marketing and management – this was the topic of the visits to FUMA Hauszubehör GmbH and Trend in Form GmbH based in Karlsbad by the group of twenty Vietnamese managers at the end of their four-week stay in Germany. The Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim welcomed the participants in autumn 2016. In Karlsbad, the group was received by Ralf Geggus and Jochen Kästel, the managing directors of the two companies.

FUMA Hauszubehör GmbH has been active in the field of entrance matting systems for more than forty years now, whereby the owner-run company has been managed by Ralf Geggus since 1994. Premium entrance matting systems by GEGGUS GmbH based in Weingarten, which was established by his grandfather, are sold in Germany and Austria under the brand name ‘FUMA’. “Almost everyone has walked over one of our entrance mats when they go shopping or visit their local bank,” says Ralf Geggus. This is not only the case in the FUMA distribution area, but also worldwide. Entrance matting systems from Baden have been installed at Singapore Changi Airport as well as at the Mall of Scandinavia, which is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. While the company is successful in Asia, it does not yet have a sales partner in Vietnam. A conversation starter was therefore soon found. Individual side discussions with managers from the construction industry soon arose from questions on the separation of production and sales, which is uncommon in Vietnam – regarding installation of the products by the companies themselves or sale of the entrance mats “Made in Germany” in Vietnam through their own network. The subject of brand protection and the handling of imitators proved of great interest to the entire group. While FUMA’s aluminium profile may appear easy to imitate, the products seem to be holding their ground in the Asian market. Managing director Ralf Geggus attributes this to the high quality of the footfall sound insulation and guaranteed delivery within five working days. During major international projects, purchasing decisions are invariably made by the architect. And they often prefer to rely on the German brand product rather than a rival product that is potentially cheaper.

In an enlightening presentation, the managing director of Trend in Form GmbH, Jochen Kästel, outlined how his consulting company for interior design advises on, plans, produces and markets top-quality acoustic and lighting solutions for offices and production spaces. Among his customers count trade fair centres, automotive manufacturers, banks, doctors’ surgeries and private households. Trend in Form GmbH uses lighting elements, projections and absorbers to create just the right mood and pleasant acoustics in commercial spaces. Fire safety, which is another of the services the company offers, was also a compelling topic for the Vietnamese managers. As company owners, many of the participants must take this crucial aspect into account. The small company’s extensive network also impressed the group. Partners from the most varied of industries enable comprehensive advice. The establishment and maintenance of such a network in Germany was examined from an intercultural perspective.

The very warm reception provided by the two companies enabled the guests in-depth insights into the German corporate and management culture. After the event, they were invited to sample some typical German specialities: pretzels and white sausage.

By Manuel Lauer
Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung GmbH (ZEW), Mannheim