It's hard to believe that Thorsten Schmidt is still relatively new to the game. There is nothing in his outward appearance that would suggest that he is a neophyte. His first and most striking impression is his savvy and insight.
But at just 36 years of age, Schmidt has made a rapid rise at Gildemeister, the largest machine tool builder in Germany, already earning a seat on the company board.
Schmidt has emerged as one of Gildemeister's leading voices in global expansion. He has overseen the corn paw's opening of a technology center in Chicago in April, as well as its decision to build a plant in Bangalor, India.
Both the Asian and American markets are primary targets for Gildemeister. But China in particular, he says, is the key.
"If you are a market leader and you want to succeed and grow, you cannot neglect China," says Schmidt. "It's the largest machine tool consumer in the world. You need to find a good solution to this type of market."
That solution, he says, isn't just providing sales and service help--it is keeping a pulse on what the end-user needs.
"I believe that's a big challenge for the industry," Schmidt says. "When you want to grow, you want to develop markets, but you end up having a loss of information--you lose your contact to the end-user.
"We think it's vital that you retain that. It allows you to transfer knowledge and expertise, so the user "knows how to get the maximum out of the machine tool. Gildemeister has one very big advantage in that for many years we have developed our own sales and service structure and network."
Dr. Thorsten Schmidt
Member of the Board for Sales and Service DMG, part of the Gildemeister Group Bielefeld, Germany
Doctorate in economics, Westfalischen
Wilhelms University, Munster, Germany
CEO of DMG Asia, Shanghai, China, 2004-2006...