I cannot believe that my position as editor of pme allowed me to visit Europe for the first time in my life.

Grundfos, a worldwide pump manufacturer, flew a group of media members to meet company executives, including new CEO Mads Nipper (who previously spent 25 years with LEGO, a fellow Danish company), and tour the company’s operations in Bjerringbro, Denmark, and Tatabanya, Hungary. 

After digesting plenty of information and beautiful sights (particularly in Budapest along the Danube River), and enjoying incredible meals and the gracious hospitality of our hosts, what impressed me the most was the Danish and Hungarians’ understanding and capability of speaking English.

Obviously, English is not the first language for either country, but everyone I came across had a strong understanding of it and made it easy for me to be comfortable as a stranger in a strange land. I quickly thought about the inverse scenario and was ashamed to realize I would not be able to provide the same cordiality to a foreign visitor.

I know I am not saying anything that has not been said elsewhere, but it is true: We live a world that is constantly shrinking. This industry continues to shrink as well. How much business does your group do with companies featuring leadership based outside the United States? What would it mean to that contingent if you and your partners were to showcase a working knowledge of their first language?

Most likely it would not mean much to your bottom lines, but it probably would create a newfound respect amongst your industry peers. What might that lead to down the line?

I know we all are very busy between our work, friends and family, but I have been inspired by this trip to Europe to broaden my horizons and skill set. I am going to try my best to learn a new language. Now the question is which one?


Mirror images

While traipsing through Denmark and Hungary, we got to meet many of Grundfos’ employees and see the company’s operations. What stuck with me was seeing how the Grundfos’ factory in Bjerringbro was similar to the factory in Tatabanya.

An employee in Denmark putting together an impeller was wearing the same Grundfos T-shirt as a worker in Hungary building a commercial pump. The production lines and layout of the factories were eerily similar. If I was not so cognizant of being in Europe for the first time, I would not have realized I was in a completely different country.

A company such as Grundfos, with manufacturing plants in Europe, China and the United States, has to strike a balance between the different cultures it operates in and working toward the company’s internal goals. Streamlining operations is a smart place to begin. If a plant manager from Chinawere to come to Denmark, he or she would have a strong understanding of what is happening at the plant.

I know many of the large-scale engineering firms in the United States have offices spread throughout the country. But, are all the satellite offices in lock step with the company’s overall goals?

 It might be prudent to take some time to make sure all systems are online. And that everyone is working toward the same goals.