Since the 1960s, Balluff has grown from a fairly small medium-sized enterprises with almost exclusively German customers into an international group of companies at present. The basic idea for business expansion was simple at first: Anything that was a success in Germany should also be transferred to other similar target markets.
Austria had good connections with the then socialist states which were members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), the socialist pendant to the Marshall Plan and the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OECD). Austria was therefore the first country to be considered: Balluff opened its first branch there in 1971 after just under six months. Success was quickly attained and the sales location expanded. In the following years Balluff continuously extended its branch network: USA, Brazil, Japan, Turkey – new locations were opened everywhere. Balluff is now represented worldwide in more than 60 countries and regions, and has a global production network.
Operating on international target markets led to an increase in the number of “distant” customers with whom contact had to be maintained. “I spent three quarters of my life traveling,” said Volker Geissel, who held the post of Managing Director of Balluff from 1995 to 2009 and was active in sales for around 40 years. “When traveling, you deal with culture and people, experience new things and develop friendships. People are always the key factor.” Balluff therefore always attached maximum priority to creating customer proximity, knowing customers and recognizing what helps and makes them successful. This was achieved both through a mobile sales team and by means of the large number of local branches. Digital formats – ranging from e-mail marketing, a website and an online shop through to virtual events – now also play an important role. Online training courses are very popular with customers.
Changes in cooperation
In view of the large number of branches, the worldwide delegation of tasks has proved worthwhile for Balluff: A comprehensive structure of transnational regions with corresponding Regional Managers ensures clarity. Cooperation is becoming increasingly more digital in this respect – business trips are being replaced to an increasing extent by online meetings. Cloud technologies such as Microsoft Teams or Sharepoint, CRM tools such as C4C and Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMs), e.g. Canto, allow new communication and meeting formats: No matter where a colleague works, she is just a click away! Everyone therefore works together as an equal and concepts have an international focus right from the start. Being a global enterprise also ultimately means: Not everything is controlled from Neuhausen.