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Interview: WTH-international contacts

European Good Breeding


(mud) – Anyone who wants to do business abroad must find his way. Today, Walter Thieme has a small but solid and reliable network to successfully operate in Asia on the markets. But he has gained access alone, without outside help. His principle: contact us, go there - do business. In the interview he tells how this became a success.

Question: Mr. Thieme, how do you best get in contact with people in China, for example?

Walter Thieme: I never tried to get me in China as Chinese. But with a good 'European nursery' in my "Rucksack" and a reasonable amount of empathy and intercultural competence, I did a good job everywhere. By the way: It is quite helpful to eat with chopsticks, to openly meet the variety of Chinese cuisine - and to accept the Chinese way of life.

Question: How did you come to visit India?

Thieme: During the plastics trade fair 'K-1998' in Düsseldorf I had contact to an Indian manufacturer of fatty acid based additives. They planned a production plant for amide waxes and sought for later distribution partners in Europe. So WTH GmbH became their first distributor in Europe. Later, I visited the completed amide wax plant there. I continued to travel to suppliers in Mumbai, New Delhi, Ahmedabad and was in India six times. At first I went alone, later I also took along staff.

Question: You also always report good human encounters - even in India?

Thieme: Rather! Hearty personal contacts developed. My wife Annemarie and I were even invited to an Indian Hindu wedding party in the family of my business partner. This meant celebrating five days, initially in the 'small' circle with 300 guests until the finale with 2500 guests.

Question: More Travel led back to China. You drove alone again?

Thieme: Exactly. I went to Beijing and Shandong Province. I visited suppliers of optical brighteners and glass fibers. I attended Taishan's 10th anniversary in TaiAn with a big festival banquet, plant tour and of course Chinese fireworks. Here, too, very cordial contacts with my Chinese business partners developed. But not only did I see a lot of Chinese manufacturing operations, but I also traveled the country from HongKong and Shenzhen in the south, via Shanghai to Beijing and Liaoning in northeastern China and some cities along the Yangtze River, the longest river in China.

Question: And now you take your son Gero more and more often - you present him as a successor to the business partners?

Thieme: Yes, I would like to introduce him as my successor thoroughly into the business and the matter. We were together not only in China, but also in India and also twice in South Korea, where we want to establish business relations.

Question: Visiting the country and people, that's one thing. But Asians are also considered to be eager to travel. Did they start a return visit with you?

Thieme: Yes indeed! Even with 'consequences': One day, a delegation of eight people from China announced their visit to Stade. Although I knew only two persons of it. But we spent an evening with typical German cordiality, German home cooking and a lot of cheerfulness. And now the result: A few weeks later, the business contacts and negotiations were much easier and faster. From then on, WTH was delivered, for example, goods against an open payment term and also the usual documentary transactions were waived. - I think that I had done many things right with one or the other ...

(Read also the report "Proven principle at WTH: Alone to Asia")