Interview: How are we doing in New York?

At the end of September we opened a new branch of Beta Control in New York, where we will, next year and with the MeoHub USA project’s support, search for new business partners for our filling station product portfolio, as well as for companies interested in our specialised development capacities. The New York branch will be headed by Mr. Jiří Janich, with whom an interview was made on the above targets to be fulfilled and on what it means to operate a company in the most demanding market of the world.

 

What were the first days like after your arrival in New York?

The first week was rather hectic for us. We began with an inspection of our new office followed by the project opening ceremony at the Meopta U.S.A. head office. Then, the representatives of all the companies selected to take part in the project participated in a meeting with the President of the Czech Republic that was held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan, New York City. After these initial events, there were other tasks awaiting us, such as ensuring long-term accommodation, a company car, a bank account, insurance, and many other organizational matters. After their arrangement we could start performing the first of our work tasks, i.e. a more detailed research of the local market.

What does such research include?

It is necessary to obtain as much information as possible concerning not only the competition but also our potential business partners, end customers and their needs, which may, in many cases, differ considerably from those encountered in Europe.

During the first week, I visited the “NAEC 66th Annual Convention and Exposition” in Boston. It is the greatest US exhibition of elevator technologies that is organized by the National Association of Elevator Contractors. More than 200 exhibitors participated in this event. In this way, I had the opportunity to compare offers by local companies to those we are used to encountering on the European market.

But, in fact, the filling station products should be the key items for the American market…

Ideally, we want to find a US business partner for each group of our products that involve lift control systems, filling station components, as well as the Safe House system.

Nevertheless, we have decided to launch a project focusing on the installation of windshield washer fluid dispensers at local filling stations. At first, we had to find out the differences in the construction of US filling stations, the means of the process for self-filling and, subsequently, the preferred manner of payment for petrol. We have examined in detail windshield washer fluid prices, companies supplying the washer fluid and the habits of local customers when replenishing their washer fluid.

Which of the possibilities of direct promotion of Beta Control products have you already used?

In the middle of October we presented our products at the LIGRA Trade Show 2015. LIGRA (Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association) is an organisation that has been connecting small- and medium-size entrepreneurs in the field of filling stations in Long Island for more than 80 years.

During the trade show we obtained not only valuable contacts to filling station owners and other companies engaged in this area, but we also had the opportunity to discuss our plans with the LIGRA general manager and, thus, to obtain important feedback. We are going to closely cooperate with this organisation also in the future, and plan to use its communication channels to facilitate the dissipation of information about our company and products to our customers.

What are your forthcoming work plans?

At present, we specify our business model to be used for the installation of windshield washer fluid dispensers at filling stations and solve the most favourable manner of payment for the dispensed washer fluid.

Another important step will include the certification of our product for the US market. Some certificates applicable to Europe could be recognised, but some tests will have to be made also in the USA, and the products will have to be certified according to local standards. This fact may result in other technical modifications to our equipment. However, we are prepared for this.

In addition to the aforesaid longer-term tasks, there are naturally other upcoming short-term plans. This week, for example, we will have a meeting with Mr. Fried from CzechInvest, an agency for business and investment development. I believe that this meeting will provide other information and bring other opportunities for establishing business cooperation with local companies.

Have you had an opportunity to get to know New York in a non-business way?

It is true that my work has taken most of my time so far, but I have already managed to go and see the centre of New York City. One opportunity I had was to take part in a reception held on the occasion of the Czech National Holiday on 28 October at Czech House. And straight away the following weekend I had the opportunity to see the traditional mask parade, i.e. Halloween Parade 2015, in The Village, which was really interesting. I believe I will have more such opportunities soon.

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