One of PWM’s first installations in the US in
1996. Look at the gas prices!
and 7-Eleven on its list of major US companies
they are working with, backed up by a nationwide
service network of over 150 trained people in the
Max added “It was a major challenge to build
this network and took some time to get it to
the level we are at now. But this is mandatory
to provide our product nationwide and also a
differentiator to others in the market. In regards
to after sales we never believed in outsourced
service centres, we always hired our own people.
We recently received a Supplier Recognition Award
as an “extraordinary business partner” from a
major retailer in the US, which we are very proud
of. In the US we are still headquartered in Houston
where it all began, with our own sales and service
team, working closely with major sign companies
and fuel retailers.
EXHIBITING FOR OVER 20 YEARS
PWM have exhibited at the NACS convention
since 1996 and in fact one of first things Max did
first when he arrived in the US was to sign up as
an exhibitor. “I needed some first-hand feedback
about our product and I thought the best way to
do it was to try and have dialogue with as many
people as possible” he said. “It was a plan which
worked well as Texaco and Conoco showed
serious interest at the show and invited me to
visit their headquarters in Houston. I was thrilled
and registered PWM Inc almost immediately, with
Houston being my chosen location for offices”.
Conoco and one of its major jobbers went on to
becoming PWM’s first customer.
Max claims to having always been a strong
believer of the NACS show mainly because his
focus was on direct sales and at NACS he felt
he could enjoy end user interaction. However at
his first NACS exhibition he had to rethink, in his
words, ‘the assessment of potential customers’. At
other exhibitions in Europe his experience told him
that the high potential customers attend in a suit
and tie. However, experience counted for nothing
in this case as he found the exhibition floor at
NACS to be just the opposite: Max explained “The
biggest buyers came in shorts and sneakers and
were very modest. Their questions though were
very straight forward, like ‘how much does it run’
but I had no idea what they were talking about.
I concluded after a while that what they wanted
was a price indication and not the technical detail,
which I was more than ready to provide”.
In saying that, quality and being manufactured
in Germany were then and still are, the major USPs
as Max sees them for PWM’s products. Being
known as a true innovator in the market also ranks
high on his list of priorities. He told me. “You need
to show passion and a strong belief to be successful
in the US. It’s a very dynamic market and for
those who come with strong arguments against
existing solutions, opportunities will evolve, as
there is still a pioneering attitude in America to
try out something new. The other two things you
must have though, if you are to be successful, is
patience and deep pockets”.
After the company’s first order in 1996, a team
was hired to carry out installation, after sales service
and training but it took Max much longer than
he had imagined to put the right people in place. At
first he had to fly in technicians from Germany to
get the job done, but as time went on he was able
to assemble a US team which he was confident
would take PWM on to the next level.
Max concluded “In the early years I had my
doubts about being successful in the US, but
twenty years on, I can proudly say that PWM Inc
has grown to become a tremendous company.
You could say, my ‘baby’ has grown to become
a fully-fledged adult. We have a strong position
in the US market; however there is always room
for growth. I have to say though it wasn’t easy.
It was a tough, hardworking path and the whole
experience changed my personality, hopefully for
the better I might add. These days I always aim
to transfer my passion on to my team, with my
leadership and me being much more hands-on
and accessible to those I am working with. Today
our Houston operation is headed up by Wolfgang
Manz, a great leader who I would like to add, has
an exceptional team working alongside him”.
Visit PWM at booth 6401 at the NACS PEI convention
in Las Vegas from October 7-10 where you
can meet the team and see their new products
Words: Nick Needs
To watch the video,
go to www.erpec