Posted on 06/30/21 by Sindy Yeh
TELE is an industrial electronics, manufacturing, and services company headquartered in Vienna, Austria, with customers and distribution partners in more than 50 countries. TELE’s products and automation components allow companies to monitor and control their industrial equipment. I sat down with Daniel Kroepfl, Vice President at TELE, who established TELE’s first United States office in late 2018 in Rosslyn.
1.TELE has been in business for more than 55 years. What made the company finally decide to open an office in the U.S.?
I first visited the United States in 2015 as a tourist. I worked for TELE in Vienna, Austria, and soon started researching the U.S. market environment. The company only had one distribution partner in Texas, which did not allow us full coverage of the U.S. market. Given the size of the country, it is crucial to establish regional and local sales networks instead of relying on one global and national one. Hence, I researched and convinced TELE’s organization and leadership team that it was critical to establish an office in the United States to secure long-term success and grow our brand. Soon we had a project team in place and presented the analysis and business plans within the company’s various divisions such as marketing and sales or product development and got them attached to the idea of the benefits of having an office in America.
2.What made you pick Arlington?
TELE’s United States office opened in late 2018. One of the major criteria is accessibility to Europe and the entire US market, Canada and Mexico. Access to a major transportation hub is key for our core industries: industrial production, automation, and electronics manufacturing services. Everything is within easy reach by having an office here to allow us to achieve our business goals.
Austrian Airlines also has very frequent, nonstop flights from Dulles Airport to Vienna so we can travel to our headquarters to work on projects and stay embedded in the corporate culture. Direct flights are also a major advantage for me when seeing my family back in Austria. TELE was founded in 1963, and for more than 55 years, the company has placed emphasis and value on its customers and employees and stressed the importance of meeting face to face. Our senior leadership team and the owner, Mrs. Haase, still try to visit TELE’s customers whenever available. It is satisfying to hear our American partners and customers ask about our owners when we visit them. Some of these customers have been with us for more than 30 years!
It is also important to the owner and the entire TELE organism that employees can grow and feel comfortable. Before TELE moved to Virginia, we spoke with several economic development organizations throughout the country. The company selected Arlington because we wanted our employees to be happy in a dynamic environment, and we can find the right talent in this area. In addition, everyone in our headquarters loves to travel to the DMV region to visit us for leisure and business at the same time. Being from Austria myself, I grew up with many wineries around me, so the vineyards in Northern Virginia are always convincing.
3.What advice would you give to an international company when it is considering expanding to the U.S.?
International companies must get used to the size of this country. All 50 states have their own unique economic environments, systems, and networks. The diversity and number of industries that you can service require a lot of focus. A good starting point is to evaluate the top three industries that you have experience with and concentrate on those industries or be all over the place. Another important tip is that sales work differently in the U.S. than in Europe. It is important to spend time evaluating the sales process that is right for the product in the U.S. There most likely will not be one major distributor for the whole U.S. market, so stick to what you do best, focus on your top 3 industries and work on developing the perfect sales path.
I also recommend international companies work and collaborate with economic development organizations, whether at the Federal, State, or Local levels. When we moved to Virginia, the entire team at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and Arlington Economic Development was very supportive and helpful. We even had the chance to discuss our plans with the Virginia Secretary of Commerce over lunch. The Austrian Embassy and Advantage Austria offices in Washington D.C. also provided excellent support. Having the DC-MD-VA region as a meeting point for many international people and organizations is an advantage, and it is a pleasure to make connections and grow within these networks.Topic: BIG Update