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Around the World in 45 Days: Lessons learned from Customers in Eight Countries

Around the World in 45 Days: Lessons learned from Customers in Eight Countries

After 45 days, 35 customer visits, eight countries and two trade shows in Thailand (ProPak Asia) and Spain (Metal Machining), our international sales manager Matt Pierotti has been back on the Eastern Shore for a month now. We recently caught up with him to learn about his world-tour we affectionately dubbed “Where in the World is Matt?”

Edge:  What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your six-week customer outreach?

Matt:   A few stand out. First, the opportunity to meet customers face-to-face to connect, solve problems and share experiences. That’s invaluable for long-term relationships. Second, I am very excited about the response we received from sintering companies for Knuckleback. The belt is so unique and different than anything they’ve previously seen. I anticipate our European and Asian customer orders for this premiere belt grow in Q4 and 2017. Also, I was very gratified to secure the return of a former can company customer. The Bangkok-based manufacturer had switched to a cheaper metal belt. When we demonstrated that PacTitan would double their belt life and cost less in the long-run, they decided to return to Cambridge and we can proudly claim them as a customer again.

Edge:  Can you give us an example of a high-tech manufacturing solution you offered on one of your visits?

Matt:  There were so many. One that sticks out is a company in Spain using a heat-treating application to make rubber insulation installed around car doors. They were using a Teflon belt and getting only three to five days (!) life from each belt. I recommended Precision with rollers to keep the belt on track and showed how it will dramatically increase belt life expectancy from days to months and probably years! At a Metaldyne plant in China, where we’d already installed Knuckleback, we learned they’ve doubled belt life to nine months.

Edge:  How did you find European and Asian markets differed in terms of operations?

Matt:   That’s a great question. In my experience, the biggest difference was that European customers I visited in Ireland, Italy, Germany and Spain get right to business, often meeting and talking on the plant floor. In Asia, they allow more time to connect in a formal environment. For example, my visits to customers in China and Japan often entailed 2-3 hour meetings around a conference table with two-dozen employees. After presenting our capabilities using a power point, the meetings became workshops with the customers asking MANY very specific technical questions. On one occasion, we – three of our Taiyo reps and myself – visited Diamet Corporation, a powdered metal factory in Japan. Over the course of two hours, we fielded dozens of questions and supplied detailed data on how the flattened wire knuckled edge, and elongated spiral to rod connection reduce camber, stretch and carbon build-up increasing belt life 30-60%. Also, in Grenchen Switzerland, I visited the most pristine, cleanest sintering factory I’ve ever seen! You could literally eat off the floors.

Edge:  How has this experience prepared you to better serve Cambridge’s international customers?

Matt:   I learned a lot about our customers’ cultures, how they do business and what to expect. I better understand the market from the ground level; that allows me to prepare contract deals and proposals from their perspective.

Edge:  Did you learn any new words or expressions?

Matt:   I’m proud to say I mastered saying thank you in six languages. I’ve also added a new Spanish expression -- bali (pronounced bah-lay) -- that roughly translates to “ok, all right, I understand.” It was often said three times in a row – bali, bali, bali – kind of like we say “gotcha” or “got-it.”

Edge:  Tell us about a memorable side trip.

Matt:   I had a chance to visit my ancestral home Lucca, a beautiful renaissance town in Italy’s Tuscan region. I walked through the cemetery where hundreds of tombstones carried the Pierotti name and learned that my ancestors were architects. Also, the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland were spectacular.

Edge:   What was the best dish you ate?

Matt:   Wow – that’s a tough one as there were so many! When I was in Spain, I had the most tender, delicious baby lamb cooked in a brick-oven. And all of the pastas in Italy were amazing. But I think the best meal of my trip was the Pad Thai I had in a small, non-descript café in Thailand.

Edge:   After being away 45 days, what did you crave or miss from home?

Matt:   A bacon cheeseburger and my own bed! In fact, I stopped at a restaurant on my way home from the airport to get that burger!