By: Beverley Ferrara, European Representative at The Water Council
A number of European companies from Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany have joined TWC during the past year through Overseas Membership. Benefits include connections to US market stakeholders, soft landing facilities and business support.
Primus Line of Germany, a company offering solutions for trenchless rehabilitation of pressure pipes, is a particularly active overseas member who in just a few years has grown their sales significantly in the US. I recently spoke with Primus Line Vice President Andreas Fleishmann at the German Water Partnership (GWP) annual meeting in Berlin to get a better understanding of the secrets behind their success. Below are excerpts from my interview.
Whether located in the US or Europe, it’s easy to think in terms of homogeneous markets. We thought the US was one market of 320+ million. What we discovered was that it’s really a market of 52 individual states. That’s a big takeaway. My advice to others in a similar situation: Start in one place. Create a good reference site. And then spread out.
In addition to satisfying federal regulations and requirements, we’ve organized and invested to be successful at a state level. Different states can have different tax reporting requirements, employment regulations, etc. And it’s important to understand the indirect sales costs for independent advisors and lawyers are generally around 15% higher than similar services in Europe.
We’re currently active in 14 states. Our sales people meet up front with customers, mainly big utilities, to educate on the value of the Primus Line brand. But our local solution partners are the ones who actually sell, install and service our products. Customers benefit because they can obtain quotes from different partners, all of whom are certified by us in Germany.
The US is much more competitive than Europe and it can be difficult to establish the value of new technology. We’re not only fighting against price but also against change. Current players in the market want to protect their turf, especially against competitors from outside the US. Having an affiliation with TWC – and all the benefits that go along with that — has helped us counter these forces more successfully than if we we’re doing it alone.
As a mid-sized company, it’s easy to get lost in mega cities like New York and Chicago. For European companies, Milwaukee is a good launch pad for US growth in part because it’s easier to make personal connections. Milwaukee really has a lot going for it in that respect.
Because I spend a lot of time in the US, it’s become part of my life. And I want to share that with my family. So I’ve taken my wife to California. This summer, I’ll take my kids to Florida. And the golf courses are beautiful!