Guest blogger Ben Taylor is Assistant Chief Executive at Renishaw. He is a business speaker on the masterclass panel at the Business in Asia: Meet the Ambassador event to be held on May 3rd
For our financial year ending June 2011, direct sales to China for my company Renishaw represented almost 19% of total turnover, overtaking our sales to the USA for the first time. Whilst the first six months of this year saw these positions reverse, the fact is that no-one within Renishaw foresaw such a dramatic shift in the world order in such short time.
However, the benefits that we are today reaping in China are down to a long-term commitment to the Asian region, which started in 1982, when with a turnover of just £3 million Renishaw took the decision to open a subsidiary in Tokyo. Many people thought we might be too early, but it was founded on a clear belief, still held today, that to fully understand your customer’s needs, to give the best possible support, and to identify new commercial opportunities, you have to have a local presence.
We have also learnt that to build success in Asia takes time, especially to demonstrate a commitment to a potential customer – something that we term the ‘three visit rule’. Yet, this is only the start, for to continue the relationship can mean a relentless drive to meet demands, and especially ‘Asian hours’ which are rather different to those known in most Western nations. Many of our UK-based staff have tales to tell of half-day product seminars in Korea lasting until midnight, or working in the factories of large Chinese manufacturers into the early hours of the morning to meet requirements.
Despite these demands, the rewards are clear, and today we have built a strong brand in Asian engineering circles, supported by offices in all key markets, including nine in China, where we also have a wholly owned trading subsidiary in Shanghai. We continue to achieve success through a combination of factors, including the careful recruitment of local personnel with the necessary contacts and cultural skills to help smooth our introduction, whilst at the same time using the services of professionals to help us keep the right side of often fast-moving legislation.
I look forward to expanding on these issues when I speak at next week’s Meet the Ambassador event on May 3rd.