Moving to a different country is guaranteed to be exciting and stressful in equal measure.Try doing both the above at the same time!
I did this almost 6½ years ago when I relocated from Wenzel UK to Wenzel America and I will be doing it again in September when I move back to Europe and start another exciting new job with Wenzel Group as their Marketing Director.
America was more different to the UK than I expected, there were many cultural differences to understand and I was surprised how often I was misunderstood with my new hosts and I both speaking “English”!
For me the change of job bit wasn’t so bad back in 2010 – at least the company I reported to and the products we sold were the same. The US manufacturing economy was still pretty bad though and I couldn’t believe the devastation caused by the implosion of the car industry in my new home state of Michigan.
Detroit always seems to get the publicity but other cities like Flint, Saginaw, Pontiac and even the state capitol of Lansing also suffered greatly. But things started to move and by 2011 we had rebranded the company here, introduced exciting new lines of optical and CT products and got ourselves in good shape for the growth that was happening.
I would say that 2011 was probably the only year when I experienced the US machine tool market in full flow as companies gained in confidence to make the investments they had been delaying for the last 3 years – we were so busy and it was thrilling to be a part of it.
So what did I learn about business behavior in the United States?
- Americans are still entrepreneurial in their attitudes to business.
- Americans want everything done yesterday (even if it doesn’t need to be).
- Americans are (mostly) very pleasant to deal with.
- Americans have an enormous amount of respect for German machinery builders.
- Americans like the idea of buying from a family owned company, especially when they are family owned too!
- Americans are pragmatic when selecting equipment, but will buy a machine for $100,000 without seeing it!
I look back over those 6½ years with a great deal of affection and I don’t mind saying, a fair amount of personal satisfaction.
But of course our success in my time here is down to many people.
I would personally like to thank all those North American customers who trusted me and my team with their business, our excellent partners (Renishaw, External Array, LeDuc Creative, our bank, insurance agent, lawyers, CPA, IT support and many others) and most of all the team at Wenzel America who grew in capability, responsibility, confidence and success during my stewardship.
Many members of the team have taken on more responsible jobs and one of them, Drew Shemenski will take over my job as President from September.
It’s always positive to promote people from within if you can. It can give encouragement to others and continuity to customers. I wish Drew and the team here continued and even greater success in the future.
President, Wenzel America