Markets, trends and valuable insights into the world of foreign trade: for a cup of coffee with KOCH CEO, Nicolas Menge.
How the export industry will develop in the future and why pioneering spirit is still in demand today.
Mr. Menge, how did foreign trade find you?
At that time, it wasn’t easy to find what I wanted. I actually wanted to become a carpenter or study sports. But my father convinced me at the time that my passion for languages, my communicative nature and my interest in other cultures could be used in foreign trade rather than in the gym or at the band saw.
My mentor during my learning years still had a real pioneering spirit: with only a phone on the table and without much correspondence, he controlled his business. That impressed me. As a trainee, I then had to go on my first trip abroad. It was Iran, and the experiences I had there left their mark on me. It doesn’t matter which culture you deal with, in the end it’s the personal relationship which leads to a good and sustainable business. That’s still the case today.
How has foreign trade changed during the globalization?
The days of traveling in a banana boat to Latin America to do business are definitely over. Globalization and new communication tools have made traditional foreign trade much more anonymous. Today, anyone can buy or sell goods anywhere in the world. On the other hand – and here lies an opportunity for us – business demands more and more direct service to the customer. This adds an important component to the buy-and-sell factor: By working more closely together, we automatically get to know the customer better. By the way: KYC is one of the major requirements demanded by the compliance guidelines.
“The industrialized nations must ensure sustainability.”
Speaking of compliance: Aren’t the increasingly tight guidelines rather a disruptive factor for the usual business processes?
Compliance guidelines are necessary. We live in a world of imbalance, and in my opinion, industrialized nations need to ensure sustainability. Whether it’s the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act, a closer check of export licensing requirements, or letting your colleagues and employees follow the Code of Conduct.
All of this must lead to a more resource-conserving awareness and a sense of justice that can ensure that for example production sites in developing countries offer better working conditions for people. Of course, the internal implementation of the constantly changing compliance requirements is a full-time job. But this is a contribution we must and can make.
Where do you see foreign trade in 20 years?
A foreign trader must have a pioneering spirit. This particular guild has always been able to adapt to different circumstances, to constantly reinvent itself. It’s almost Darwinian. If there are new trade barriers in a country, foreign trade adapts. If there are new regulations in the compliance area: foreign trade implements them. If prices become more transparent due to globalization, concepts are adapted accordingly. The constantly changing geopolitical situation in various countries requires a high degree of flexibility. We must not forget that we are also the link between cultures. As long as there are borders, foreign trade will always exist.
What makes KOCH Consulting + Export a special service provider and what are your goals with KOCH?
Our USP is the personal connection to customers and suppliers. We connect both sides and thus ensure mutual understanding in project work. We also have a very low fluctuation rate among our employees. If you call us again after 5 years, you will have the same person on the phone. This creates a basis of trust. Our goal is to further expand our sustainable and transparent customer service, to open up new markets and to maintain our stable base.