“We face the same challenges”

Mexican specialties – in Germany that usually means just popular dishes such as enchiladas or tacos. Some of the participants from the Mexican MP group decided that they wanted to change that. In June of 2015 they held negotiations with German distributors to discuss products such as Tamales Mexicanos (stuffed corn husks), mezcal (Mexican distilled alcoholic beverage made from agave) and organic prickly pear juice. Thanks to the MP some of these products will now have a stronger presence on the German market. Traditional Mexican ceramic handicraft and silver jewelry also impressed their German partners, and a sales contract has already been signed. And there is demand in the other direction for German technology – e.g. small wind turbines and diesel engines for the Mexican energy market, which is currently undergoing liberalisation.

Diana Belanger, vice president of a medical device manufacturer, has noticed commonalities between German and Mexican family businesses: “We face the same challenges”. This was one of the reasons that she and four other Mexican managers who work in family businesses felt that their visit to the beverage manufacturer riha WeserGold Getränke GmbH was a programme highlight. Managing Director Dr. Jörg Knebusch reported on the change management within the family-run business that Richard Hartinger, the son of the founder who shares his name, has led over the course of 65 years. “Sometimes you realize, that the company is not yet ready for the specific change, then you have to wait.” The Mexican participants were impressed by the fully automated production line and the company’s level of innovation, making them capable of independently guiding the entire process – from the fruit orchards to distribution.

From visits to a total of over 80 German companies the managers also discovered that Germans use a more direct communication style than the Mexicans. “I reduced my company presentation from 30 to 14 slides, to be more direct and specific”, said participant Humberto Beltrán. The German businesses they visited appreciated the valuable exchange of ideas and the visitors’ friendly and honest manner.

But it was not only the German market that held great potential for cooperation. The 19 Mexican managers, who represented various regions, industries and age groups, also benefitted within the programme from each other. There was lively exchange of business ideas and approaches to solving day-to-day business challenges. The successful business contacts in Germany made by the two logistics providers in the group already produced orders from their colleagues within the group. Two other participants started a cooperation in the trade of metals in May, immediately after the preparatory seminar held in Mexico.

By Inga Markwart
Deutsche Management Akademie Niedersachsen, Celle