“All the knowledge we have now gained can be put to good effect and help us in our objectives: specifically, those of buying or selling products and doing business with Germany.” With these words Mexican logistician Josef Modlmayer put his finger on exactly how the skills of the programme’s participants have developed or improved over the past four weeks. The general manager of the Queretaro-based Su Almacen company offers German companies storage, transport and installation services at a variety of different locations, with a particular focus on suppliers to the automotive industry.
His new “friends” (such is the camaraderie after four weeks) also referred to how much they had expanded their know-how in terms of management and cooperation. In that respect, they did not just talk about the themes that cropped up in workshops such as personnel and project management or “Practical Aspects of Cooperation with German SMEs” but emphasised the very specific things they were taking away with them.
For Jorge Leal, a manufacturer of and distributor in packaging materials from Yucatan, this was the realisation, for example, that in his sector the trend in Germany is moving away from mass production and towards personalised production and that concepts of social responsibility and of the sustainable economy were gaining importance in the process. This was clear both at the DRUPA trade fair in Duesseldorf and at a visit to the Schloss Wackerbarth winery. For Miriam Reyes Galvan, on the other hand, the value for her day-to-day work lies in the “lessons learned” from the experience of developing and managing a project. This was something she had discovered from the project management workshop and from the visit to IMM electronics GmbH in Mittweida.
Despite the fact that Erika Camillo Rodriguez already had some European experience under her belt, she was also given a few “reality checks” in terms of “how we do business at home” and had changed her view of the market for handmade jams. “It has become more positive,” she emphasises. “If Germans do business with us, they expect a long-term relationship.” As trainer Thomas Starke kept underlining, it makes their life easier if they have a reliable supplier instead of constantly having to look for a new one. In Mexico the opposite is generally the case.
Much of what they learned from the workshops and group visits has enabled the managers to be better prepared and more efficient in initial discussions with German partners. 27 contracts with German partners are now planned for the next twelve months. Provided “we do our homework,” Iliana Alba Hernandez acknowledges. She wants to export grapefruit to Germany. Like other producers of Mexican specialities, such as puffed amaranth crispie bars, mezcal and tequila, tortillas and avocado, she has found an initial way onto the German market despite considerable obstacles. Her experience is shared by Gerald Seifert, manager of the bakery company Bäckerei und Mühle Bärenhecke e.G., in the Eastern Ore mountains that cover part of Saxony. For him, there will perhaps be an opportunity to export Christmas stollen to Mexico. “Nevertheless, we need to continue our efforts,” commented the German businessman.
By Peter Rösler
GICON International Training and Business Development, Dresden