Alfons Mensdorff-Poully, Country Manager, Jebsen & Jessen (SEA) Ltd is pictured above. Photograph: Phnom Penh Post
Germany’s important southern neighbour is Austria, home of Mozart, the snow-capped Alps, the beautiful city of Vienna and the historic seat of the Habsburg Empire. Because of the close relationship between Germany and Austria, when Austrians are in Cambodia and lose their passports, they can get help from the German Embassy.
One Austrian in Phnom Penh is Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, country manager for Jebsen & Jessen (SEA) Ltd. He laughs about the love-hate relationship between Germany and Austria.
“We have a very good relationship with Germany which we see as our big brother. There’s a strong competition in football,” he said.
On June 21, 1978, a football game Austrians refer to as The Miracle of Cordoba took place between what was then West Germany and Austria in Cordoba, Argentina. While Germans refer to it as The Disgrace of Cordoba, the Austrians never let the Germans forget it, because it was the first time that Austria defeated Germany in 47 years.
“Austria and Germany are very connected in language, economics, and shared history,” Mensdorff-Pouilly said. “The Austrian relationship with Germany is a good one and in recent times we have seen a large number of Germans coming to Austria to study.”
Mensdorff-Pouilly says Austria is like the smart young kid of the family, “always trying to have our own identity, trying to be a bit superior,” he laughed.
Jebsen & Jessen has several joint ventures with German companies, one of them - called JJ Lapp - is engineering and producing specialty cables around SEA. That’s the company that supplied some of the cables to the Vattanac Tower.
“These are both one hundred per cent family-owned companies that have joined forces to enter the Southeast Asian market and this is a perfect example of how Jebsen & Jessen works,” he said.
“We have a German company with high-quality products, and Jebsen & Jessen has the know-how and expertise in Southeast Asia. These two companies joining forces have now become a leading cable provider in Southeast Asia with manufacturing plants in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and a presence in Cambodia.”
Mensdorff-Pouilly says the high-quality products cost more at the beginning, but save money in the long term.
“If you were to decide on a short-term, cheaper, cable, pump or crane, you wouldn’t get the long-term efficiency and sustainable quality, which saves you a lot of trouble and money if you think in a long-term perspective. High quality means higher efficiency and less maintenance cost,” he said.
Mensdorff-Pouilly is also proud of Jebsen & Jessen’s training program which hires local Cambodians and sends them to German production plants for training in high-quality systems operation.
“Then we bring regional people to Cambodia to conduct technical seminars, and we invite technical consultants and contractors, and show them samples and teach the differences between high quality products vs low-cost products.”
Mensdorff-Pouilly says Jebsen & Jessen viewed Cambodia as a long-term investment from the very start.
“We decided when we entered Cambodia that we came here to stay and we knew that to educate our own people and to educate the market would take time and now we are seeing a rising demand for these quality items,” he said.
Jebsen & Jessen will have a booth at next weeks’ CamBuild exhibition on Diamond Island, to display the various brand names and products.
“We’re very pleased with the development of Cambodia in the past year and we’ve managed to hire very good individuals,” he said.
“Our principals and partners from around the world are eager to see Cambodia further develop. I personally have seen very positive changes over the last two years alone and we are very eager to see Cambodia develop further and we are excited about the future and are looking forward to many more successful years.”
Since he opened the Cambodia office of Jebsen & Jessen nearly two years ago, Mensdorff-Pouilly has expanded the office to employ 20 people and has had significant business success, including the supply of high-quality cables and cranes to various projects in the country.
“We are positive on the signals Cambodia is sending. We like the stability and the growth,” Mensdorff-Pouilly said.
“We have seen some good international companies coming into the country, and the understanding of quality materials and quality technology is on the rise. People know and appreciate high technology better than they’ve done before.”
Jebsen & Jessen’s portfolio includes technology companies from around the world, including some famous German companies.
“For us it is vital that the market understands and values technology and related quality. That’s what we trying to bring into Cambodia.”
Jebsen & Jessen has had a joint venture called MHE-Demag with the leading German crane company, Demag, for many years.
“We are jointly running factories and production plants throughout Southeast Asia, and there is a rising demand from international clients and customers. We now are offering dedicated service and maintenance on these Demag cranes and components in Cambodia. We have invested in training, sent our employees abroad to be educated and trained in these German technologies.”
The Demag joint venture with Jebsen & Jessen employs 1,500 people around SEA and continues to grow.
“We expect Cambodia to be a very interesting market. Here in Phnom Penh, companies such as Vattanac Properties are extremely valuable because they value high technology and highly engineered products from countries such as Germany,” he said.