As Country Manager of MANN+HUMMEL Colombia, I have been responsible for leading the startup of our new site and operations since the 2nd of January 2017. Having completed the startup process in about 4 months has been a great milestone for us, so that as of 1st of May we took full responsibility for business development across Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The MANN+HUMMEL Colombia team is currently comprised of 5 people; however, in addition to, we are looking for 3 positions to be filled in, for a second expansion step. Diversity and Inclusiveness have been of paramount importance during the recruitment process, so it goes without saying that our new staff came from global oil majors, global leading bearing companies, and also from very well-known filter companies.
Here in MANN+HUMMEL Colombia, as it also is throughout the entire MANN+HUMMEL Group, we have a clear vision of leadership in filtration supported by Customer intimacy, Marketing Intelligence, Collaboration, and Commitment to Education and Training at the Distributor and shop floor/Customer level. Commitment to education and training demands from us a sound set of technical and sales competences. If you have no knowledge of filters, you will find it hard to believe how deep and wide the product range is. So, in order to strengthen our technical capabilities, we had late in March a one week training in our MANN-FILTER manufacturing plant in Argentina and also in early April in the WIX-Filter Miami’s office and also at the Manufacturing Plant, MDC and headquarters in Gastonia. I and my team experienced this fascination with our quality, as a whole, from the raw materials we use, to production processes, and most importantly of our people. We simply are amazed by the R&D and Technology that the MANN+HUMMEL Group puts in each filter that goes out to the market.
Both in Argentina and Miami/Gastonia our MANN & WIX- Filter colleagues picked us up from the airport and had displayed our names at the reception areas of their facilities to welcome us to the MANN+HUMMEL Group. When one of us spotted it, he said to me: “MANN+HUMMEL is a family. I feel at home.” Everyone on our way to the hotel was impressed by the hospitality of our colleagues everywhere. I would like to say a warm thank you to management and to all of our colleagues at the Argentina, Miami and Gastonia locations who did such a great job of supporting us in organizing our trainings and integrating us as in their teams.
Customer intimacy is a second pillar of our strategy, so that early in April, we in MANN+HUMMEL Colombia welcomed our distributors from South America, as we were host of the International Distributors Conference in Bogota. It was a unique experience to meet people from several countries in South America with so many experience. We were delighted of having distributors from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. Needless to say that this was the perfect opportunity to officially inaugurate our office in Bogota.
On Tuesday 4th April we received our customers with a light lunch from 2-4 p.m. and thereafter our colleagues from Argentina organized a soccer game to have some entertainment with those who had arrived. In the evening we enjoyed a special dinner in a very nice restaurant located 2 blocks away from the hotel.
Second day was devoted at sharing a day-out of Bogota to reinforce customer intimacy and affinity. In doing so, we organized different activities to allow people to do what they were excited about. For instance, hill climbing was one of most enjoyable for our customers, as you may see below.
On Thursday we held a full day meeting in which we presented our business results in 2016, targets for 2017, and our business strategies; all of this with the aim at getting our distributors’ alignment to MANN+HUMMEL goals across the Automotive Aftermarket Business Units in SA. At noon we had a very delicious and entertained lunch at a Japanese restaurant located only 5 minute-walk from the MANN+HUMMEL Colombia office.
After the full working day, it was time to relax. And what better way to do that in Bogota than enjoying a amazing experience in one of the most popular restaurants that has a unique and inspirational atmosphere all in it is about customer affinity and delivering exceptional customer service.
I see networking and the exchange of knowledge within the MANN+HUMMEL Group as one of the opportunities to enhance our people capabilities in MANN+HUMMEL Colombia. We need to support our distributors/customers in order to successfully bring a stream of new revenues through new products launch to the market, sound technical training, market intelligence, developing customer intimacy and exceptional customer service. Our new site in Colombia, offers a perfect environment for collaboration, as we are working closest to our distributors/customers. I am very optimistic that in doing this we can intensify our cooperation and become significantly more effective, achieving meaningful market penetration and sales growth.