“We took the opportunity to keep pace with global growth”
LEONI turning 100: Contemporary witness Jerry Cummins on video about “globalisation”
Leoni first expanded to Asia in 1993, gaining foothold with a joint venture in Singapore and plants in China – with its first production facilities in Xiamen, in the south-east of the People’s Republic, and in Changzhou, located in the east of the country. “Leoni was early at the time in going global with the help of several acquisitions and by internationalising its business. I believe that, had the Company not done so, many of our facilities in Europe and in Germany would now be closed,” Jerry Cummins, who has been part of the Company’s move into the Asian market from the start, explains.
At the time, the cable and wiring systems manufacturer was still completely unknown as an employer: “Many didn’t even know how to pronounce our name, given that was then Leonische Drahtwerke,” Irishman Cummins recalls. He experienced at close quarters how the Company’s prominence grew – and how the stance of employees changed. “They rapidly developed respect for Leoni as a company that is loyal to its staff. They felt that Leoni is taking care of them.”
Leoni meanwhile has as many as 10 plants for wiring systems as well as automotive and industrial cables in the Middle Kingdom. The cables specialist developed in line with China’s rapid economic growth: “Leoni had the opportunity to keep pace with this growth – and we took it. At the time, in the early 1990s, we had roughly 100 employees in China; now there are more than 8,500” the 53-year old said.
Leoni intends to drive its own globalisation forward in the future, too, in order to distribute its business more evenly between the three economic regions of the Americas, Asia and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). “For me, the trick is to combine two things: On the one hand, the systematic German approach with good planning, good resources, good expertise and technological progress. And, on the other hand, the flexibility and enthusiasm of the people as well as the market opportunities locally.” To Cummins, the Company’s future success will lie in combining these two sides: “If we manage to strike a balance, then we will be able to be really successful on all our markets.”
Preview: The fourth contemporary witness interview will be released in September. Alicia Zwick, apprentice and managing director of the Leoni Junior Group in Roth during 2016, talks about her training and her experience with Leoni.