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Interview: Winner of Dragons Business Award 2017 Jiahe Shengde Investment Holdings

Winner of Dragons Business Award 2017

By: Wenqing Liao

“Local integration helps us to grow our business in the Netherlands”

Jiahe Shengde Investment Holdings B.V. (“JSI”) was established in 2013. JSI decided to establish its European headquarter in the Netherlands because of the stable investment environment in the country and the well-developed judicial system. Being a young and dynamic Chinese-owned Dutch company, JSI has made excellent achievements and progresses during the last few years.
Local Integration and Chinese Characters
Owned by Chinese investors, JSI carries its own Chinese characteristics. An interesting part of the Chinese character of JSI is thinking and working flexibly. David Zhong, the CEO of JSI, gives an example: “In the Netherlands, it is quite typical to make an appointment with a friend at least three days in advance if you want to invite him for coffee. However, it won’t be too difficult to invite someone for lunch without making an appointment in China, Chinese are used to adapt themselves to an open schedule”. “We work flexibly” David adds. When JSI opened its office in the Netherlands, the focus of business was targeted on the auto-parts industry. It turned out that the Dutch automotive market was less promising than expected, JSI decided to change its business strategy and to target its business on a wider range, including, exhibition, product experience centre and start-up incubation. Now JSI has created one of the largest exhibition centers in The Hague, GIA Trade & Exhibition Centre (“GIA”) with three floors and has 35,000 square meters. “We are adapting ourselves to the business needs and willing to change our business strategies whenever necessary”.

“Flexibility, nevertheless, cannot always generate success. Compared to the Chinese market, the Dutch market is more regulated and structured, with less flexibilities and changes. With respect to the compliance of local law, regulations and policy, we behave in a Dutch way”, David confirms. “When working on the ground planning for the GIA exhibition center, we had to wait for the land permit for nearly half a year before implementing any floor plans. Following local rules helps to avoid unnecessary risks and costs, but it takes time to understand those rules”. In respective of how to handle the inflexibilities generated by Dutch rules, David strongly recommended to create effective communication channels with employees, external advisers and the Dutch governments. “I always listen to our teammates, allowing them to share different opinions and ideas. This works better than making decisions on my own.”

The team of JSI
Speaking of the secret for local integration, David attributes it to the work of the JSI team. “The team of JSI is a close and cozy family. Half of the JSI employees were assigned from China by our Chinese investors and the other half consists of Dutch employees as well as Chinese employees who had already gained Dutch market knowledge from their previous study or work in the Netherlands.” According to David, employees with cross-cultural background can help Chinese investors to integrate into the Dutch society faster with their knowledge of Dutch culture and market. Additionally, the Chinese background of those employees enable them to understand the needs of the Chinese investors, which leads to more efficient communications. “To be mentioned, Chinese employees work hard and do not mind to work over time” David jokes. “Above all, I think it is important for Chinese investors to proactively reach out to Dutch locals, entities and governments. JSI has been working very hard on local integration. That is why we try to participate in every Dragons event and we also organized the 2016 spring festival celebration in The Hague”.

Additionally, the Chinese background of those employees enable them to understand the needs of the Chinese investors, which leads to more efficient communications. “To be mentioned, Chinese employees work hard and do not mind to work over time” David jokes. “Above all, I think it is important for Chinese investors to proactively reach out to Dutch locals, entities and governments. JSI has been working very hard on local integration. That is why we try to participate in every Dragons event and we also organized the 2016 spring festival celebration in The Hague”.

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