… an export manager

Business trips to Vietnam and Malaysia

As COLOP’s export manager, one of my duties is to present COLOP’s innovative products and solutions around the world. This time, I’m heading to Vietnam and Malaysia. Although I’ve travelled to Asia before, I always find it interesting to visit our partners and clients in this region. I set off on Sunday – I’ve got an exciting working week ahead.

 

Sunday, 10 August 2014:

I embark on my journey to the Vietnamese metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City (HCM), which was formerly known as Saigon. There are no direct flights so I have to fly Linz – Frankfurt – Singapore – Ho Chi Minh City. I depart Linz for Frankfurt at 6:40 p.m., before continuing my journey with Singapore Airlines at 10:00 p.m.

Monday, 11 August 2014:

I land at Singapore’s Changi Airport at 4:40 p.m. local time. My plane was delayed so I find the gate for my connecting flight to Vietnam in double-quick time, arriving in HCM at 6:30 p.m. local time.

 

It’s my first visit to Vietnam. I hop in a taxi and soon reach my nearby hotel. That evening, I join our distribution partner for dinner and am brought up to speed with the latest news about the Vietnamese stamp market. More than 25 hours after leaving home, I return to the hotel at around midnight. It’s time to lie down and get some sleep.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014:

The morning begins with a meeting, followed by visits to stamp manufacturers in Ho Chi Minh City. HCM is a vibrant city with 7.1 million inhabitants, 4 million motorbikes and around 300 stamp manufacturers.Before setting out, we ask ourselves whether we should travel by moped or car. Given the chaos on the roads, we opt for the slower yet safer option and choose to go by car to HCM’s 'stamp-making district'. Almost 100 stamp manufacturers can be found clustered in this part of the city alone.

Before we embark on the last part of our journey on foot, our distributor gives me a piece of advice about how best to cross the street and negotiate the never-ending stream of mopeds: “Don’t stop – just go!”

In other words, don’t stand still whatever you do, but instead try and dodge all the moving mopeds as you cross the multiple lanes. This may be challenging for us Europeans who are used to waiting for the green man, but somehow the system works. At least a dozen moped riders carefully weave around us as we safely cross the street.

We spend the morning visiting stamp manufacturers. Through speaking to our clients, I discover the latest news about the Vietnamese stamp industry and will later use this information to devise appropriate marketing and sales strategies.

At a meeting in the afternoon, we have a range of important topics to discuss, including sales trends, new products, the new Printer, prices, competition, cost estimates, clients, marketing, distribution and logistics. With so much to talk about, there’s certainly no time to let the jet lag sink in!

In the evening, I join our distributor and his wife for dinner and the menu opens my eyes to Vietnam’s exotic side. Besides the standard Asian dishes, it includes delicacies such as snakes, field mice, frogs, insects and shark fin! We decide it’s best to stick to fish and a Saigon Beer!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014:

In the morning I leave Vietnam and fly to Kuala Lumpur. We have a very strong foothold in the Malaysian market. COLOP has become somewhat of a success story in this country, with our stamps being held in high regard and enjoying a great deal of renown. After landing, I meet our long-standing business partners from AE STAMP. We hold a meeting and resolve the last remaining questions surrounding our products and the Malaysian launch of our new Printer. I also briefly meet one of our business partners’ family. His children speak the Chinese languages of Cantonese and Mandarin, as well as English and the Malaysian language, Bahasa Malaysia. I’m impressed!

Thursday, 14 August 2014:

I travel to Print Tech, the stamp-making industry’s most important trade fair in Malaysia. AE STAMP has designed an eye-catching exhibition stand with the new Printer as its focus. We present this product during a large number of meetings and receive excellent feedback, with stamp manufacturers, resellers and end clients all quickly recognising the Printer’s advantages. Before I leave the AE STAMP’s sales representatives share the following thoughts with me: “COLOP has done a very good job and has created an innovative stamp offering numerous benefits. This will help us to achieve our targets. We are convinced that the new COLOP Printer will be a success in Malaysia.” 

After a fruitful day at the exhibition, it’s time for me to take a taxi to the airport.

My flight departs Kuala Lumpur for Singapore at 9:45 p.m. A good 12 hours later, I land in Frankfurt and take a connecting flight to Linz.

Friday, 15 August 2014:

I arrive back in Linz and head for home. It’s good to be back and I’m looking forward to the weekend.


Summary:

My time in Asia has shown me that our products also appeal to a broad market in areas of the world that work quite differently to 'good old Europe'. Asian stamp manufacturers are impressed by COLOP’s products, and Southeast Asia is an up-and-coming economic region with plenty of potential for the future. The work we’ve put in over the last few days will help us to ensure that COLOP’s success story can continue unabated.