Successful market debut in spite of turbulent times
Interview in CHEManager magazine: IBIC Managing Director Hans-Peter Beier
discusses current economic challenges
According to calculations from the Institute for Research of Small and Midsize Businesses in Bonn, 208,000 start-up companies were founded in Germany in the first half of 2009, 0.2% more than in the same period of 2008. And the institute predicts that this upward trend will continue. One of the start-up founders in 2009 is Hans-Peter Beier. His company IBIC (Internationale Beier Ingenieur-Consulting) supports companies in designing new manufacturing plants for the process industry. CHEManager asked Beier if he is satisfied with his company’s start and how he assesses its development in the current economic situation.
CHEManager: Mr. Beier, there are certainly easier circumstances than the current economic climate for starting a new company. How would you sum up your experiences? Are things running according to plan?Beier: IBIC was only founded in October 2009 so I think it would be a bit too early to take stock of the situation at this point. As for now, I’d agree with you – mid 2008 probably would have been a better time to start a company. So far, however, I really can’t complain. Everything has been running on schedule and our first marketing activities such as our new Web presence are accelerating our go-to-market strategy. Overall, the developments up to this point give us good reason to be optimistic.
CHEManager: Until recently, you served as managing director of an Indian engineering service provider. What drove you then to start your own business?Beier: I’ve come to realize that small companies can react more flexibly to their customers’ needs. I personally feel that this flexibility is essential – and that’s why I took this step. Although we haven’t completed any large projects to date, we will be able to announce a few successful wrap-ups in the near future.
CHEManager: Do you feel that flexibility gives small service providers a competitive advantage over large ones?Beier: Absolutely. At IBIC, we view ourselves as consulting partners for efficient engineering. This message seems to be well received in the market.
CHEManager: Besides being a small service provider, what makes IBIC unique on the market?Beier: For starters, we have vast experience and a large network in the process industry. As a result, we can offer additional services, for example, in purchasing or procurement to support many different areas from component selection to plant design based on a virtual model. In addition, we can tap a huge pool of resources in India. With that we mean large quantities of qualified staff who implement projects for designing new plants. The number of available qualified professionals in this field is significantly higher in India than in Germany.
CHEManager: In your branch of industry, do you need to spot certain stumbling blocks or hurdles in order to be successful?Beier: It is definitely beneficial when the service provider knows what it is talking about, in other words, when it has experience in the field for which it is providing consulting services. That’s why I feel that chemical engineers are the ideal applicants for our open positions. In addition to their technical know-how, they also bring an enormous amount of industry experience into the project.
CHEManager: You say that one of the advantages of your industry experience is knowing which additional services are necessary. Are you looking to expand your company to provide the broadest service spectrum as soon as possible?Beier: A cautious expansion is definitely part of our business strategy. Right now, however, we want to achieve organic growth with the projects that we are already supporting. We currently have three employees who are responsible for business development and we are using our strategic location in Central Europe as our primary focus for international business.
CHEManager: There are many biased opinions – but also legitimate concerns – regarding outsourcing to India. What do you feel are the advantages?Beier: Outsourcing remains an important instrument to secure a company’s competitive advantage because costs remain one of the most convincing arguments. And in the current economy, cost awareness is definitely on the rise. In the meantime, however, most companies have more realistic expectations when it comes to actual cost savings. Previously, many had hoped that relocating a project to India would mean a 50% cost reduction. In the meantime, most people know that that is not the case. In the early days of outsourcing to India, there was considerable talk about quality issues. Even though much has leveled out since then, we take great stakes at IBIC to ensure that our project managers understand ‘both’ sides of the story. Plus, as the mediator between the customer and the service provider, we can quickly identify potential problems and take appropriate counteractions at an early stage.
CHEManager: Where are the majority of your customers currently located?Beier: Right now, we are prominently active in continental Europe with a clear focus on Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Our target groups are customers in the process industry with more than 100 employees. Our activities are centered around chemicals and energy, for example, power plant operators that want or need renovations. Many new projects are currently underway in the Middle East. Although this region doesn’t have a high population density, the financial possibilities and technical resources are available.
IBIC (Internationale Beier Ingenieur-Consulting) GmbH, Neu-Isenburg
Phone: +49 (0) 6102 812238
Fax: +49 (0) 6102 812239