ZCC Cutting Tools Europe, the Chinese manufacturer of carbide tools, commissioned its new test and demonstration center in the Lichtenbroich borough of Düsseldorf in the middle of May. The company has invested more than 2.5 million euros and created 20 new jobs. In an interview, Managing Director Quanliang Zhao talks about what makes Düsseldorf so attractive and which plans the tool manufacturer is now pursuing.
- ZCC Cutting Tools Europe has been located in NRW since 2003. The company has developed into a success story. Looking back over the past 16 years, what were the most important milestones and highlights?
The very first but decisive step was certainly to lay the foundations for all subsequent business relationships in the market. This includes systematic and well-founded knowledge of the markets in Europe, the different customer expectations given the particular industrial as well as cultural conditions here and, of course, the respective competitors. Based on this foundation and within an initial, stable network of business relationships, our development since 2010 has been very continuous and steady – with a steady upward trend. At ZCC Cutting Tools, we focus on remaining as composed as possible, even though sales have grown constantly at double-digit rates in recent years, which is twice as fast as the market as a whole.
If you are asking me about highlights that I would single out from this development, then certainly the move to the new European headquarters in Wanheimer Strasse with the efficient logistics center to meet the high demands of European customers. An essential element of customer service in Europe is delivery service and delivery reliability. Our logistics center enables us to ensure delivery to customers in the most important European markets the day after the order is received.
A particular honor for ZCC Cutting Tools Europe was the NRW.INVEST AWARD, which was also a great motivation for us to continue emphatically on our chosen path.
As a result of this, the recently opened test and demonstration center with its outstanding mechanical equipment also offers us completely new perspectives in customer service, customer-specific developments, testing and optimization of solution concepts and, last but not least, the training and education of our own employees.
- You once said in an interview: "Our roots are Chinese, but I think we can say we are a German company today". To what extent do Chinese and German corporate cultures intertwine in your company? How do the two enrich each other?
Of course, we are very proud of our Chinese roots. And to be successful in Europe, you have to be highly respectful of the needs of the European markets. The structures of the markets and also the requirements of the customers as well as competitive conditions also differ from market to market. You have to take all this into account if you want to be successful. We have employees from all over Europe here in Düsseldorf and, of course, in our sales teams in the markets, as well as some Chinese compatriots who help, among other things, to build the bridge to our parent company, on whose technological competence our products are based. In this way, in a very open and tolerant corporate culture in which mutual respect is perhaps the central element, we bring together all the necessary hard and soft skills that enrich and complement each other.
All in all, we are a European company in Europe with Chinese roots, and this is why we are successful.
- With the new test and demonstration center, you can now further align your company to the future. What prompted you to take this step and what do you expect from it going forward?
The test and demonstration center is a central element of our customer promise "Added value through partnership". With and in the T&D Center, we create added value through customer-specific offerings such as development and testing, optimization and training. For our European development department, this small factory, with its highly efficient machinery, is also essential for testing technical innovations through to market launch. This will help us in the medium and long term to provide even more innovations in line with the specifications of our European customers and to significantly reduce the time to market.
- The opening of the center here in Düsseldorf is also a clear long-term commitment to North Rhine-Westphalia as a business location. What role do NRW and Düsseldorf play for you as a location?
Due to the structural conditions, NRW was and is one of the regions with the greatest potential for us. In addition, the international airport provides us with an ideal connection between our European logistics center here in Düsseldorf and the production facilities in China.
Düsseldorf is continuously ranked among the most attractive cities and regions in Germany. This is also an important in order to be an interesting employer for applicants and their families. And, of course, the cosmopolitan nature of the Rhinelanders makes it easy for our expatriates to be accepted quickly and to feel comfortable. In addition, the city and the state actively support the companies in their development and offer active assistance, in particular for individuals, when starting out in a new environment. Düsseldorf now has a large Chinese community which also makes it easier for family members to take their first steps in this new cultural environment.
- What do you want for the future of ZCC Cutting Tools Europe? What are your next plans?
ZCC Cutting Tools possesses high technological competence in accordance with international standards. In view of this, there is potential that we want to tap. To this end, we will continue to apply European customer focus and to strengthen our customer loyalty, including further expanding the T&D Center to include a production facility for small batches. In order to be able to attract the qualified employees necessary for this growth, the continuous increase in the attractiveness of ZCC Cutting Tools Europe as an employer is a very important component.