Internationalisation Endurance is worthwhile in South Korea
There is still a valuable market waiting in the shadow of China and Japan: the industrial nation of South Korea. Entering this market is not necessarily easy, but the example of the standard parts manufacturer Fibro shows that even medium-size enterprises can do it.
For over fifty years, the company from Hassmersheim has had its own subsidiary in South Korea. “It started at a time when European tool manufacturers were buying more and more in Korea,“ says Jochen Schäfer, Director of Standard Parts Business at Fibro, in a interview for ETMM's partner magazine MM Maschinenmarkt.
“Our customers then asked us whether we can deliver there.“ There were two reasons for this: Firstly, according to Schäfer, there are always products that are not obtainable in Korea, and secondly, in the case of tools used in Europe, it is easier to replace construction parts with European standard parts if damage occurs. Apart from that, safety-relevant parts used in forming tools in Europe must also comply with European guidelines and require the appropriate permits. “When a customer buys such a part, for example, a gas spring, from Fibro, he knows he is safe,“ says the director. Or else, in the worst case, the persons responsible face personal liability if something happens.
Before Fibro founded its own subsidiary for standard parts in South Korea, it was represented in that country by a trade representative. “We weren’t happy with that situation, there were virtually no revenues,“ says Schäfer, explaining why the company went to the Far East. However, this is not always the right move. “Our Round Table business segment has co-operated with a trade representative in South Korea for many years, and it works splendidly,” says Schäfer.
Communication at eye level with South Korean employees
Fibro established contacts with tool manufacturers through its own customers and developed other contacts via cold calls. Nevertheless, the South Korean subsidiary has not yet been present at trade fairs. “Perhaps next year, our subsidiary will reach a size where a trade fair presence is worthwhile,“ says Schäfer.