Interview with IPPAG President Soeren Langhoff
"Each invested dollar should result a tenfold dividend"
IPPAG looks back on over 40 years of tradition as a distributor association that cooperates beyond borders, develops ideas and products and which is jointly active in the Far East. What tasks and aims has the new Board of Directors set itself?
Soeren Langhoff: That is true, the tradition of IPPAG extends back to the days when trading directly with the suppliers in the Far East was a real competitive edge and when orders were still placed by letter post. Today on the other hand, everyone can find any desired product in the world on the web and travelling to Asia and purchasing products directly has become a fast and simple process. Even our customers have their own staff and sources in China. For an association such as IPPAG, this means that we have to realign ourselves and offer different advantages. The challenges of today are based more on values: Awareness of responsibility i.e. in the sense of corporate social responsibility, securing higher quality standards and controls, a precise knowledge of sales and marketing practises, sounding
out global perspectives, etc.
IPPAG has recently relaunched its website. What is new?
Soeren Langhoff: We want to communicate the purpose and the advantages of IPPAG more clearly - not only to our customers, but also to the suppliers and to the employees of the individual member companies of IPPAG. The website www.ippag.com provides information on our organisation,the individual members, examples of the creativity of our work, which are published in our Sales Up newsletters, proof of our extensive engagement in the corporate social responsibility sector and much more. Fulthermore, the website has been designed in such a way that the members can actively useit as a supplement to or a perfectly harmonious integral part of their own company's presence.
IPPAG organised a Sales Academy for the best sales employees of the individual member companies for the first time in June (see also the adjacent report). What is your assessment of this event?
Soeren Langhoff: We will hold the Sales Academy in future every year' Here the international top salespersons meet up, network, exchange ideas and cooperate with each other beyond the borders. This is an opportunity that only the IPPAG members can offer their sales & marketing staff and which acts at the same time as both motivation and a learning platform. IPPAG has set itself the goal of assisting its member companies in becoming or remaining the market leader in their respective countries. This is supported by pro1ects such as the Sales Academy. Moreover, the members have the opportunity on a daily basis to exchange ideas and opinions worldwide via our lntranet.
ls there room for further members within IPPAG? What attributes does a company have to have in order to make it interesting for IPPAG?
Soeren Langhoff: Yes, we are always looking for new, interesting partners. ln Europe we are currently predominantly interested in companies from Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden and Norway. The companies have to be ambitious and innovative and should erther be the market leader in their country or this should def initely be their corporate target. Our structure foresees only one member company per country, our present membership mix comprises of distributors and wholesalers.
To what extent is the current global economic situation influencing IPPAG? ls it an advantage being part of a group in such a situation?
Soeren Langhoff: Of course, we are also noticing the effects of the economic crisis. We held a management brainstorm right at the beginning on how to cope in times of crisis. We developed a number of good ideas, which each individual company was able to implement, enabling them to help save costs, look for new sales options, keep their teams motivated, etc We reacted by further intensifying our cooperation, in order to become stronger as a result of our joint activities, to profit from each other and to share and reduce costs through joint purchasing. We support our members in the purchasing, sales, marketing and management sectors - each dollar, which is invested in IPPAG, should result in a ten-fold dividend.
Brit M1nchen talked to Soeren Langhoff