Letting off steam successfully

In late summer 2015, Vietnamese MP participants visited the company CERTUSS Dampfautomaten in Krefeld, which has already been producing steam generators for over 50 years. The owner-managed family enterprise has approx. 140 employees. Currently, more than 13,000 boilers made by CERTUSS are in use worldwide. The Vietnamese executives received insights on the spot into processes and measures concerning innovation and development.

CERTUSS has its own Research & Development Department. The activities of the five employees in this department are focused exclusively on the further development of the boilers and greater automation in boiler controls as well as their connection to building management systems. It was particularly interesting for the guests to learn how the basis for the adjustment and conversion of the safety-related components was adapted to the American standards and the expansion to the USA could thus be realised. In addition, the R&D department has designed a new boiler, tested it and brought it up to the marketability stage. The company’s products are checked and tested on its own test rig. Holger Deimann, who is responsible for overseas sales, stressed the importance of having the option to implement customers’ recommendations and requests. And also to understand what needs to be altered in order to keep up with international competition.

Deimann explained that up until about three years ago CERTUSS had “only” actively sold its products in other European countries. “In countries outside Europe, we sold our products via German and European resellers. We have only really started our own overseas business, i.e. in terms of marketing and sales, since the implementation of our own Overseas Department. We work with distribution and service partners who, with support from CERTUSS, sell our products, provide service and increase long-term brand awareness in the respective regional target markets.” Due to his contacts, the focus was initially on the Middle East.

Deimann says that the group’s visit opened up new scope for action for his company. “So far, CERTUSS has no contact with Vietnam; therefore, for us the event meant the start of networking. We generally see demand in Asia for our highly efficient boilers in the area of medical technology, in the hotel industry and the food and beverage industry. We have to take a closer look at Vietnam in particular from the cluster mapping and market research perspective. It is a benefit to CERTUSS and our efforts in the overseas market if we are able to establish one or two really interesting contacts through an event like this one.”

For five guests from Vietnam, the visit was so informative that they met with Bernd Gläßer, General Sales Manager at CERTUSS, a few days later for a small group visit. “The meeting was very good”, Gläßer reported. “For us, having a distribution and service partner in Vietnam would be ideal. We intend to establish closer contacts and exchange information with two of the visitors. But the creation of a worldwide network of business people is also extremely helpful. After a while, it leads to more and more projects and orders – that is my personal experience with Asia. It is simply important to keep in contact and to maintain the networks.“ A return visit in Vietnam is now also planned for the near future. Should the plans with one MP participant be carried through, joint visits to customers and, at a later stage, also training sessions for the potential new partner’s sales and technical personnel are envisaged.

In this way, the MP contributes to the transfer of knowledge on innovation management to Vietnam and, in addition, to the establishment of new and hopefully profitable networks.

By Eva Daub
TÜV Rheinland Akademie, Cologne