Last week we had the chance to get to visit Dynajet. To be frankly honest, walking in I was not all that impressed. Unlike the other places we had visited, they didn’t have a grand entrance or forum and not to mention, no snacks. But do not let this fool you. Dynajet turned out to be one of my favorite visits. And why is that? It was because it was so different from the rest. I loved learning about what it is like to be a part of a smaller business.
I’ve always assumed I would want to work for a big corporation with lots of opportunities and potential to move up. I was so narrow minded and believed that would be the only way to have success. After visiting Dynajet, my eyes opened up a bit. We were able to talk to some employees at Dynajet about what it was like to be a part of a smaller business. Though they acknowledged they don’t have the same potential to move up, they did talk about the opportunities they are given. That is, they have the chance to work better as a team. You may come into the office one day and if a person is sick, you may have to take over their work even if it means working at the copy machine for 3 hours. You are challenged and pushed outside of your comfort zone and may have a broader view of the whole business. You have more “pull” in the business and don’t have to get everything approved by so many levels. You see the way the success of the company directly affects you, and therefore you take pride in your work. Ultimately Dynajet has opened up my eyes to the possibility for working for a smaller company.
There are a few cultural differences that you wouldn’t think would prove to have a larger impact overtime. On one end, there are a few annoyances such as paying for water or paying to use the restroom. There’s never an outlet next to my bed to charge my phone and lets me honest the wifi is constantly kicking you off. On the other hand, I have found the european culture to be quite refreshing. I have loved the idea of public transportation or even the lifestyle of walking/biking to every place you go. What a great way to stay healthy but also care for the environment. I have also enjoyed the longer meals europeans share with one another. It has been a blessing to sit down for dinner and not rush it, but rather enjoy the company at my table whether that be my best friends or other students on the trip that I have gotten the opportunity to get to know. This “slower pace” seems to translate into the business world as well – people often taking breaks for coffee with one another. Another plus is not having to share a bed but still getting to sleep next to your best friend. That’s the “best of both worlds sleepover” if you ask me. All in all, I have enjoyed all the experiences I have had in Europe, but it will be the little things that I will cherish for a lifetime.
Vermeer Manufacturing all started in Pella Iowa when Gary Vermeer was looking for more efficient ways to do the most basic farming tasks as opposed to the old ways of his ancestors. In 1948, Gary started Vermeer Manufacturing and launched a variety of products, but it wasn’t until 1971 that his business really launched when his team invented a new way of baling hay. Ever since, they’ve been creating machines and products for 60 countries to fuel and feed their communities.
We had the opportunity to visit one of the regional facilities in the Netherlands. We met with Baaker, the operational financial officer, who gave us his take on the company he has been with for nearly 22 years. After speaking with Baaker as well as other engineers and manufacturers in the building, we have a few takeaways from the day.
First, Baaker describes the differences in the “business culture” in American from Europe after living there with his family for two years. He noted the struggles of working with a team in Pella, Iowa. Though America may not have as much of a hierarchy as Germany or Italy, Baaker found it extremely difficult to receive honesty and build trust with his subordinates. They would prefer to take direction as opposed to working as a team and challenging one another. This is very different from the European business culture where the hierarchical lines blur together and where colleges are not afraid to be blunt with one another.
Another take away we gathered from the tour was the struggles that occur from having an international company. Vermeer pointed out two main aspects that need to be considered – who is manufacturing the products and who are the customers. This particularly matters because countries have different measuring systems (ie. imperial vs. metric system). Depending on where the product is being made directly impacts the plans for the manufacturers and moving the production requires the plans to be converted. Secondly, the manufacturers need to be aware of their customers and what the regulations and restrictions are in the country they reside. For example, europeans require tighter restrictions on those who can tow trailers as well as what the weight of the trailers can be.
Our last take away, and the one I found to be the most fascinating, is the importance of data analytics. Baaker could not have stressed this topic more. He used the analogy of literacy. In the middle ages not everyone was literate and only the monks and others could read it write, giving them a great advantage. This same idea goes for businesses and their data analytics. Those that can not only gather data, but also interpret it are those that can be the most innovative and move their company and even industry forward.