Vanderbilt takes first big step into China

Wiesbaden, Germany

The hardest thing about breaking into a new market is winning that first job.

Vanderbilt recently made further considerable inroads in the Asia Pacific market as the company won its first project in China which expands the existing significant footprint in South-East Asia to the North. The project is a medium-sized, 60-door installation of ACT Pro for a European multinational.

ACT Pro is Vanderbilt’s award-winning access control system designed in Ireland and sold mainly in Europe for the last 20 years. It was introduced to the Asia Pacific market in 2018.

Bernard Neo, Region Sales Manager for Asia Pacific, outlines the main feedback he has received from the marketplace to date regarding ACT Pro. “From talking to potential customers,” Neo begins, “ACT Pro is very well accepted. Price-point-wise, it's very competitive and the origin of the brand also gives a boost to the quality of the product.”

Melvyn Teo, Vanderbilt’s Market Development Manager in Asia Pacific, concurs with this assessment, adding, “Vanderbilt is still a pretty new brand here in Asia. Some of the other Asian brands have been selling here for 10-15-20 years. So they have more traction and leverage here. While ACT Pro has been selling in Europe for 20 years it has only been in Asia for 3 years. But ACT Pro has all the nice and sophisticated features of a Western branded product at an Asian price point. A Western branded product is perceived to be a bit more professional, more stable, and yet the product is also lot more value for money. So, there is a very positive outlook here on ACTpro.”

The project win, which is Vanderbilt’s first step into the Chinese market, came about through collaboration with their partner Anixter. Vanderbilt and ACT Pro were put forward by Anixter due to Vanderbilt’s well-supplied Sales team in the region, which has the trusted ability to offer on the ground support, as well as the critical factor that Vanderbilt is one of the few access control brands in Asia Pacific that has the correct local certifications for the Chinese market.

The hardest thing about breaking into a new market is winning that first job. Therefore this project is an excellent achievement for Vanderbilt that will deliver new opportunities in the region.

Mr. Teo explains: “Every tender will always ask you for a reference in the country where you’re trying to sell your product. They will want to know can they visit your site. This project means that now we have an important project in China with a multinational European company. It will be a very good push point for us to get engagement and grow more business in China and other regions, as it also shows, that beyond the local supply, we can serve multinational customers with corporate solutions and providing local support and implementation on a global scale”.

Mr. Neo expands on this point, adding that in China, you’re always competing with the locals. “The way business is conducted in China, especially where distribution is concerned, is always low margins-high volume,” says Mr. Neo. “So, it can be difficult for us to compete at this level. But now, with this project, it will be easier for new partners to come on board with us, knowing there is already a strong reference site. There will definitely be a lot of spillover effects.”

This first project win in China is even more remarkable because it was won remotely due to Covid-19. “A lot of things had to be done remotely via Microsoft Teams and web calls,” says Mr. Teo. That we managed to cross the line in this way was remarkable. You are trying to convince a partner, not face to face, not over a handshake, not over a coffee or tea, but over the computer screen. It was a joint effort from everyone.”

This project will deliver Vanderbilt more exposure in the Chinese market, especially when it comes to European and international investments into China. “They will know that they have a European product that can comply with European standards like GDPR as well as the local CCC certifications,” says Mr. Teo.

Mr. Neo concludes, “It is definitely a big step for us.”


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