Name: Bernd Wagner
Position: General Manager
Company: MENNEKES Industrial Electric (Nanjing) Co Ltd
Company size (no. of employees): 60
Sector: Electrical industry
Core business: Power supply solutions – industrial plugs and sockets
When did you come to China?
I first came to China in 2002 and joined ABB Automation Technologies Division. In 2012, I was appointed by Walter Mennekes to take charge of his newly-established WFOE in Nanjing as General Manager.
Why did you come to China?
China is an environment where things are developing at a breath-taking speed. I embrace challenges and transformation, and I like the Chinese working style. My family and I like our second home very much. I’m glad to see that my two kids are growing up happily and healthily in a multilingual environment and the intercultural exchange will be a great asset to them in the future.
Why did Mennekes choose Nanjing as its primary location?
Nanjing possesses clusters of industrial, logistics, financial and high-tech zones, which benefit foreign and local companies in many ways. Nanjing’s well-developed infrastructure, such as its railway, highway and underground systems, interconnects the cities along the Yangtze River, and it has the geographical advantage of being just 70 minutes away from Shanghai on the high-speed train – this is important for foreign investors.
Our headquarters is in the German state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), which has enjoyed friendly relations and cooperation with Jiangsu Province for more than two decades. Mr Mennekes joined a NRW trade and investment delegation to Nanjing in 1994. The similarity of Nanjing’s scenery to his hometown attracted him to set up a joint venture here.
What is the biggest challenge for SMEs in China?
The biggest challenges for foreign SMEs in China is no doubt intellectual property infringement, local competitors and challenging expectations from the market and customers.
What is the biggest challenge for SMEs in your particular sector?
As a renowned German brand, which has gained brand recognition among Chinese in the last 20 years, a big challenge comes from intellectual property infringement. We arrived in China in 1995, and as an early bird in this sector we set the benchmark. Followers have been extremely active and we have had to put great efforts into filing lawsuits against local copycats over the years. Thankfully we have won every lawsuit and we are confident that our position as a market leader is unshakeable.
Our goal is to deliver excellent customer service, including improving our logistics, increasing product applications and providing better customer support. To maintain our market position, we have already raised our stock and are developing strategies to deliver a better service to our local customers, by providing them with more customised, quality products and solutions to satisfy their needs.
In such a fast-changing market, we need to be more innovative to keep pace with changes. Innovation is reflected in our products and technology, but also in our marketing and the way we approach and engage customers. Therefore we are always keen on developing our marketing tools, such as using social media to promote our brand and bring customers into closer contact with us.
Are you aware of EU-funded support projects for SMEs and have you ever used any?
We have frequently participated in seminars and workshop activities, especially those organised by European Chamber of Commerce, where we can socialise, exchange good ideas and experiences with like-minded people.
MENNEKES Industrial Electric (Nanjing) Co Ltd is a WFOE, established in 2012 by MENNEKES Elektrotechnik GmbH & Co KG, a leading German manufacturer of industrial plugs and sockets. Possessing a professional team and a well-developed distributor network, we have gained broad brand recognition in China over the past 20 years, together with the contribution from our joint venture. Our high quality, reliable products have been widely and successfully applied in various industries in China where power is supplied.