HAND: Brabant best place to serve its Chinese customers

HAND Enterprise Solutions Europe B.V. (HAND Europe) was established two years ago in Eindhoven after the Brabant Development Agency (BOM) convinced HAND’s Managing Director Cindy Shao that Eindhoven was the best place for the company. The fact that Eindhoven is ‘very internationally oriented’ would benefit its Chinese customers across Europe. Most of them are also customers of HAND’s headquarters in Shanghai, China.

HAND, with over 10,000 employees worldwide, facilitates multinational (mainly Chinese) companies with subsidiaries in Japan, Singapore, the United States, India, and Europe with their IT challenges. Eindhoven is HAND’s main European branch. HAND Europe mostly advises companies on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), which is management of main business processes through software. Besides using mainstream ERP solutions from SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and others, HAND also has self-developed software.

“If our customer buys a factory for instance in Germany, it often has the urge to align its ERP system in that factory as in China. We advise them on possible solutions and present it to local European management to ensure the advice lands well with the decision makers in China,” explains Roel Geraedts, Vice President of HAND Europe, who adds that there are very few Chinese IT companies operating outside their borders. “Our unique selling point is that we know and understand the customers’ real needs in their global expansion and their culture and language.”

BOM decisive

Geraedts joined HAND Europe in November 2019, at the moment that the company was just starting its operations in Brabant. The Dutch province prevailed over Frankfurt or Dusseldorf, which also has quite a few of its Chinese customers. The Brabant Development Agency (BOM) played a decisive role in the decision-making process. “They have given us the confidence, convinced us that Eindhoven is the place to be. And so far, so good,” says Geraedts, who holds the management role within HAND Europe with a Dutch background and is a former colleague of Cindy Shao at a multinational IT consulting firm.

The BOM highlighted the investment climate in Brabant, the central location in Europe and the fact that people in the region speak multiple languages and are highly educated. The number of innovations, High Tech Campus and Brainport, what is called “the Silicon Valley of Europe”, with so many companies in just a couple of square kilometers, are adding to the international vibe of Brabant, Geraedts says. During the first two years, the BOM has been actively involved in the founding of HAND Europe.

“The BOM once organized an informal dinner for Chinese companies in Province Brabant. That was great”, says Geraedts. “Such an event has so much added value, especially in this culture. It gives a homey feeling for these Chinese entrepreneurs if they can talk to a company with similar background and deep knowledge in the Netherlands to help them with their digital transformation.”

Loyal customers

The companies HAND serves tend to be very loyal as about 70% of its sales is recurring and most customers have been more than ten years engaged with HAND. “This is a result of our customer intimacy and part of the Chinese culture. Long-term relationships with customers are key within our company.”

Besides advising mostly Chinese firms with European assets or newly acquired companies on ERP, HAND also provides consultancy to European companies with businesses in China. In the absence of a dedicated salesperson here, these opportunities arise from the contacts of Geraedts and Managing Director Shao. At present, sales out of companies getting help with IT in China is ‘a fraction’ of revenue. But that may change as HAND Europe has been recruiting talent from Europe and China. Preferably the new hires in the Netherlands could master Chinese at a certain level. HAND Europe currently has ten permanent employees.