"Think globally, act locally"

That is the philosophy Grammer AG operates by in China. As a globally active supplier, the company even entered the Chinese market before it showed at trade fairs.

How long has Grammer been operating on the Chinese market?
Grammer AG has been operating on the Chinese market since 1989. It all started with a license agreement with a partner, but in 1995 Grammer set up its own office in China. Initially we only employed one member of staff whose job it was to monitor the Chinese market. Then in April 1998, Grammer AG was granted a business licence in China which cleared the way to start production on September 1, 1998.

Did you use trade fair appearances as a tool to enter the Chinese market?
No, Linde wanted Grammer AG to supply the same seats that were installed in Linde fork lift trucks in Germany for the fork lift trucks it produced in China. The aim was localisation and production of seats in China to reduce transport, customs costs etc. in the long term.

Describe your first trade show appearances. How have they evolved?
Our first trade show presentations made use of flexible "light" modular systems that allowed us to present our corporate design at a wide range of different international trade fairs. Since 2005 we have been using solid structures - but Grammer always operates by the philosophy "Think globally, act locally."

Do you aim to expand your trade fair activities in China?
Last year we brought our trade fair appearance in line with European standards, which means we got Chinese exhibition contractors to reproduce our European standard exhibition stand 1:1. We chose a stand size that meets all functional needs and which can be used at all trade fairs because of its modular structure. For the time being, we have no plans to expand our trade fair activities.

How does Grammer fare with Chinese partners and authorities?
In our experience, the Chinese authorities are helpful and offer solutions to problems.

What support do you get from trade fair organisers; do the services they offer meet your standards?
Until now we have only showed at trade fairs organised by European companies and the organisational services were very professional and met European standards.

Does product piracy present a problem for Grammer's trade fair appearances?
As the market leader we are, of course, a constant target for plagiarists. At trade fairs, our products appear as 100 % copies, exhibited by our competitors. Our customers point out these copies that are up to 40 % cheaper than our own products.But it is our policy to allow visitors to inspect and experience our exhibits - after all that's what trade shows are for. We actively invite our visitors to try out and test our seats. We do not prohibit photography at our stands either. We always show our studies and innovations in a separate presentation immediately prior to production maturity. These presentations are not open to the general public and are therefore protected from pirates.

Exhibition organisers are experiencing problems procuring licences from the Chinese authorities for their successful fairs. Do these disputes affect your business?
No, because we manufacture in China and our Chinese colleagues can communicate directly with Chinese trade fair organisers, so it does not affect us.
Interview: Annic Kolbrück

m+a report Nr.8 / 2006 vom 08.12.2006
m+a report vom 8. Dezember 2006