In July and August 20 executives from China participated in the Manager Training Programme at the Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim for four weeks. The programme focused on visits to numerous companies, in addition to learning about cultural differences.
After the executives had finished their first week in Germany, the second week started with visits to companies in Frankenthal and Hirschberg. In Hirschberg they were welcomed by Andreas Kohl, the managing director and head of sales at JUMAG. Employing a good 40 staff, owner-operated JUMAG Dampferzeuger GmbH has been developing, producing and selling oil and gas powered steam generators, electric steam generators and waste heat recovery boilers for over 35 years. The company’s products are used all around the world and have applications in diverse areas, such as at laundries, in the chemical or pharmaceutical industries, and in hospitals, butcher’s shops or bakeries. “Many foods and drinks that you consume every day are produced with help from our steam generators,” Kohl explained to his guests.
He offered detailed insight into the company management and its distribution networks and strategy. Especially abroad, JUMAG works with exclusive distribution partners who know the culture and the special characteristics of the individual industries well. As during the other company visits, the executives thought it was interesting that entrepreneurs in Germany tend to prefer a focused growth process that is quite slow by Chinese standards. JUMAG was currently focusing on setting up a company that they had opened in the US in 2016, select countries and regions in Europe and the Arab market. Three days after the Chinese group visit talks were held in Dubai, including meetings with the luxury resort Madinat Jumeirah to outfit their laundry with JUMAG products.
Afterwards there was a tour of the production facilities. During the tour of the plant, the Chinese guests were able to observe the efficient design of the company’s production processes. They were especially interested in the continuous improvement process, which involves all of the JUMAG employees. Explanatory tables and illustrations hung on a large board and were subjected to close inspection. The Chinese managers had very specific questions about the competence profiles of each employee and the measures used to promote individual staff members. In the process they saw that it is possible to maintain structured human resources development at a smaller company.
At the end of visit there was a flurry of business cards changing hands. In case JUMAG is looking to set up a distribution network in China in a few years, they will certainly already have a few contacts they can call on.
By Katrin Cerquera
Centre for European Economic Research GmbH (ZEW), Mannheim