Led by Thye and based in Mulgrave, Australia (a suburb of Melbourne), this small, ten-strong international group of employees, many of whom come from Europe, is as colorful a mosaic as Australia itself. The pioneering spirit and cohesion that characterize this land of immigrants can also be found at WACKER, where flexibility is king. “This is about more than sales – we also deal with complicated container handling issues, import taxes, stockkeeping and local chemicals legislation,” says Harold Schoonbrood, senior manager for Construction & Coatings, who has worked at Wacker Chemicals Australia since 2000. Supplies represent an important issue: while the Australian site does maintain a laboratory, WACKER has no production facilities here, and transport from Germany takes eight weeks.
Wacker Chemicals Australia is farther from Munich than any other WACKER subsidiary – when it is summer in Australia, the time difference between here and Germany is ten hours. A conference call at 10 p.m. local time is simply a matter of course for team members, even though they still have to be available for customers the next day. Only a team that works together in a trusting, easy-going environment can achieve that kind of commitment.
Business relationships in Australia, where an open, personal approach also applies to customer relations, are, in any event, less formal than in Germany, with Wacker Chemicals Australia advising its customers on issues of technology, production processes and logistics. Australia's industry does not have it easy on the global market, and this combined with the country’s mature domestic market means that many companies have to specialize if they are to survive. WACKER’s role is changing from one of a supplier to one of a highly qualified technology consulting partner – a partner whose knowledge of the industry at least matches the customer’s and one who initiates development. “I have to develop profound insight if I’m going to understand the direction the customer wants to take,” says Schoonbrood.
Expanding that role is Thye's goal. “We want to be the first company that customers turn to when they want to discuss a project,” she says. A classic example of this is the group’s collaboration with DuluxGroup, a paints and construction materials manufacturer that called together roughly 20 of its developers for a brainstorming session last year and identified new product ideas – with WACKER’s help. It was no coincidence then, that Wacker Chemicals Australia received DuluxGroup’s 2013 Supplier of the Year award. As Thye states with confidence, “Australia's companies need smart innovation partners now more than ever before.” WACKER's specialists are well equipped to meet these needs.