BANGKOK, THAILAND — For Elfriede Hell, project manager at Austria's Erema Engineering Recycling Maschinen und Anlagen GmbH, selling her company's premium recycling system in the Asia Pacific at such troubled times offers numerous lessons in the region's business idiosyncrasies.
With a sales office in Shanghai, China, and agents in nine other Asian countries, Erema has achieved a comfortable level of brand recognition. The firm makes its head office in Ansfelden/Linz.
However, Hell — interviewed at a recent trade show in Bangkok — has learned that demand for her product does not automatically translate into a sale, and that closing a sale does not mean the end of business in Asia.
For example, an Indonesian firm recently asked for a three-year financing plan to buy a machine, which the head office quickly turned down. Erema already is having problems extracting final payments from Indonesian buyers.
``Even after we agree on the terms and have signed the contract, the customer sometimes still wants to make changes,'' Hell said. ``However, we understand that it is a difference in cultures,'' she said.
It comes as no surprise that Erema is banking its hopes on China, whose economy enjoys a fair degree of resilience against the surrounding maelstrom.
To date, there are more than a dozen Erema machines sitting in the factories of several state-owned processing firms throughout China. It now is trying to get more subsidiaries of its existing customers to come on board.
There is certainly ample upside, considering Beijing recently launched a nationwide campaign against ``white waste,'' or disposable foam containers.
Riding on growing environmental concerns and cost-cutting pressures, the company has penetrated the tough Japanese and Chinese markets, and enjoys similar success throughout the region with its boutique recycling system.
In its financial year ended March 31, Erema sold 140 machines worldwide, 40 percent in Asia. During the next year, the most promising markets are China, Thailand and Taiwan, Hell said.