Ideas lead to innovation. And innovation leads to internationalization. If we at KURZ had to come up with some kind of formula for tapping markets abroad, that’s probably what it would look like. On the other hand, of course, an idea by itself is a long way from a successful internationalization strategy. But how can you get an innovation established on a worldwide scale? How can you work with a customer to leap over national or cultural boundaries? The key word here is diversification – or simply, working closely together in international, intercultural teams, so everybody benefits equally from the diversity of thoughts and ideas. And that sometimes also means working at different speeds in some markets. For example, especially in an era of digital communications, the Chinese market tries out innovations much faster than is customary in Europe. And yet that vigor then benefits innovation projects in other countries where KURZ can build on the experience it’s gained.
When you talk to Walter Kurz, the elder of the two brothers who are the top management of LEONHARD KURZ Stiftung & Co. KG, you quickly find out two things: first, KURZ had started moving into other countries long before globalization became fashionable. And second, you find out a lot about what really makes the company tick when you know that internationalization has an immense amount to do with the company’s own history of innovation and the associated attitude. An attitude that’s very much a matter of openness. Openness to technologies and their new developments, but also to people and their own attitudes and cultures.
Even back in the days when it worked mainly in beaten gold, KURZ had dealer contacts far beyond its home market – for example, in Russia. That was simply because the products in KURZ’s portfolio weren’t available with the same quality there. Carefully cultivating these first contacts with international sales territories has been one of the pillars of the company’s success abroad. At a very early date compared to other companies, international trips by KURZ management, especially by Dr. Herbert Kurz, already led to the first customer orders from the Pacific region as long ago as the early 1960s. This involvement was also intended to gain an understanding of markets in other cultures, and to meet customers beyond national boundaries.
That openness has repeatedly ensured success. “Adjusting to other cultures and acknowledging that things are different everywhere is one of our strengths,” says Walter Kurz, describing the philosophy behind the company’s internationalization. An attitude that quite logically has also become one of the main pillars of the KURZ code of values. And because that value has been actively in place for decades now, you might say that a ‘KURZ way of Globalization’ has evolved in the interplay between customers and the company’s own technological development: dialog with customers worldwide, expanding the company’s own organization, and systematically continuing to develop its own core competences have made KURZ a reliable partner all around the world – with further reinforcement from a view of people that firmly incorporates mutual trust, a customer orientation and a willingness to make changes. All of which plays a major role in how a company can present itself – and of course how it is perceived, especially in international markets. If you’re open and responsive, that’s how you’ll be perceived – and how you’ll become a valued partner.
The company’s involvement in the USA, Japan and Australia began in 1971. Then came Malaysia in 1996, and China in 2002 – in retrospect, all milestones in a development that, quite apart from geographical proximity, has always linked KURZ with its customers more intensively through new products and technologies as well. Inspiration from its international markets in particular has helped KURZ discover exciting ideas and turn them into innovations. The result: KURZ has grown along with its customers and their challenges – from developing its own machines, to application technology, to matters of design and security.
That seems to be just plain, sober fact. But behind it lie exciting questions like these: How do we meet the challenge of producing a counterfeit-proof banknote for a national rollout? How can we ensure production volumes that seem at first glance to exceed all our capacity? How can we ensure continuity in markets that are constantly changing? Questions for which KURZ has the right answers – both in technology, thanks to developing new skills, but also and most especially with employees who work for the customer with a focus on solutions, to master the customer’s challenges in the best possible way. And not least of all, with an eye to the growing challenges and colossal changes that we’ll all experience as digitalization advances.
KURZ is well aware of all this and has incorporated the logical conclusions into its vision of internationalization – for example, in the form of a proactive willingness to make changes. It’s this company’s many sustainably successful facets that have also nourished its innovative strength and ongoing internationalization.
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