Earlier this year, Probe made the decision to set up a permanent base in Shanghai, China to develop its presence in the region.
The aim being to work with the manufacturing base there, both foreign and local, whilst also trying to attract Chinese companies exporting to Europe to use Probe's UK office and resources, based in the Sony Technology centre, as their European representative office.
In June, Phil Roberts, one of the founding directors of Probe moved to Shanghai on the back of engaging with Magna Steyr to support this organisation with the launch of the GQ3 program for new Chinese vehicle manufacturer Qoros Automotive.
As intended, this fist foreign assignment has served as the platform to launch the company's offering to a wider field in the region.
Probe has produced special marketing literature "China in our hands" which is aimed at foreign companies doing business in China and "Hands across the seas"which is aimed at the Chinese manufacturing base who are supplying parts to Europe.
If you require further information on this new element of Probe's business or any of the established areas of support then please do not hesitate to contact us through the Bridgend office on 01656 860091
Asked if he was excited about the move and opportunities presentd in China, Phil said, “ Establishing a presence in China always seemed a natural part of Probe’s progression due to the exposure we have had across China and South East Asia whilst supporting our UK customers for a number of years.
“However, making an indefinite move and standing on our own two feet was always going to be a much bigger challenge than making short business trips representing a particular Customer, so the feeling was probably one of nervous excitement rather than pure excitement. Of course there is no doubt that enormous opportunity exists in the region, not only with the huge manufacturing base surrounding Shanghai but also with major manufacturing hubs such as Suzhou, Ningbo and Hangzhou being so close.
“However the size of the opportunity is a challenge in itself. If we get the strategy wrong then we can spend a lot of time going down dead ends. Like any business decision there has to be financial justification and the more time that is wasted the more expensive it will become. We are confident that this is the right thing to do and we have received a lot of feedback already commending us on the step. On top of that, we have a great team in the Wales now with Donald Melrose and Mari Goldsworthy helping Lynn to run the business in my absence so it was virtually a “Now or never” decision.”
Turning to what areas Probe would be developing in China, he added, “Initially we will targeting European SME's who are sourcing product from China but who do not have on the ground resource in the region. I only have to look out of the car window on my journey to the office in the morning to see endless big names like Johnson Controls, Continental, Lear and Caterpillar to name but a fraction and infact JLR are building a facility in Changshu which is very close by. We do not rule out working with such big names at some time in the future, if this venture is successful, but those companies have sufficient ex-patriated resources. Right now we know that there is a definite lack of on the ground support for smaller companies and this is either leaving them very exposed or putting a strain on their home resource to spend long periods of time visiting their eastern supply base.
Of course, the model in China has to follow the same pattern as it has in the UK. We have to grow our resources and associate base or it will not justify the investment we have made. To help we are encouraged by the access to assistance that exists, particularly with the Chinese British Business Council and also with the British and European Chambers of Commerce and we will be certainly feeding of their networks as well as our existing networks at home.”