HAPPICH goes China New HAPPICH subsidiary operating out of Shanghai

Owner-run HAPPICH GmbH, Germany’s leading supplier of interior fittings for commercial and special-purpose vehicles, has launched its own company in China. Established as a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (WFOE) the new company, HAPPICH Industrial Parts Co. Ltd. started business in Shanghai, China’s most important economic hub, in September 2012. The aim is to produce high-end HAPPICH products such as components and locking systems for the Chinese domestic market and for export of the accustomed quality and to distribute these products in order to become a more significant player in the booming Chinese commercial vehicle market than in the past.

Expanding presence in global markets

A good two years ago when he took over this long-standing German company, HAPPICH Manager Partner Marc Pelzer said: “Our focus in the future will no longer be on Europe alone.” Since then, step by step he has continually implemented his declared intention of having a presence in the rapidly growing global markets. “The timing of our involvement in China is favourable. The difficult pioneering period of the first years in China is over. At the outset, foreign companies in China had to learn the hard way and some fell by the wayside. We can learn from this. As a WFOE – a legal structure that is newly available – we can operate faster and more independently. We are thus able to provide our customers – both China-based European and Chinese manufacturers of commercial vehicles – our best quality HAPPICH products locally,” Pelzer says.

Following the most recent company start-ups in Turkey (with an eye to the markets of the Middle East and Near Asia) and in Spain (geared to Latin America), it was felt that the time was now right to start operating directly in the Chinese market and to implement a decision which had already been made some time ago. The relatively new legal structure, WFOE, was created by China in conjunction with joining the World Trade Organisation in 2004. For the first time it offers foreign companies the opportunity to invest and produce more independently in China than was possible with a joint venture which was previously the only structure allowed.

Crying out for quality

“The bureaucratic hurdles involved in setting up our business in Shanghai were high, but we know from experience that once the start-up conditions have been fulfilled and one can offer a good, reliable working relationship, long-term commercial success is possible in China.” Patrick Emde (34), the new General Manager of HAPPICH in China, know what he is talking about. He has experience in the Asian market, and is familiar with the different mentality and Chinese customs. He already ran HAPPICH activities in Taiwan for some years and before the present company start-up in Shanghai, he was there several times to prepare the ground. Over the coming years Emde will be responsible for building up business in China, while liaising and acting as the interface with the HAPPICH head office in Europe. The business manager and graduate purchasing manager’s most recent position was Head of the important Components corporate platform. He has held a variety of positions with HAPPICH over the last 12 years, mainly in Purchasing Management in the areas of procurement, product management and supplier management.

In Ellen Wan (33) he already has a new Chinese HAPPICH employee to assist him with his work in China.
Wan studied business management at Augsburg University, majoring in marketing, production, logistics and data analysis. Prior to her appointment she worked for two other well known German industrial companies.
She therefore speaks not only Chinese, but also excellent German, and knows how to open doors successfully in China.

“Our big plus is our know-how with regard to process workflows, whereby we can guarantee the high quality of our products manufactured with our original tools. We need to get this across in the right way. We know that our segment in China is crying out for affordable quality. Now it is a question of expanding our existing good contacts with European and Chinese manufacturers in China, and winning their trust, persuading them that they no longer need to import or imitate this quality but can obtain it from us locally at a good price.”