Q&A: Thomas Grater, managing director/general manager, OCTANORM
How did your experience with OCTANORM Vertriebs-GmbH sister company EXPOMOBIL prepare you for your new position?
As managing director of Expomobil for the last seven years, I got to know the national as well as the international fairs and event industry very well. Working as an architect before that time, I also had extensive planning and conceptual boundaries toward the fair industry.
Expomobil and OCTANORM GmbH have been serving nearly the same partners and customers and thus have been able to take advantage of synergies by this collaboration. This all adds on to the fact that now I`m very much feeling to be on home turf in the world of convention and fair industry.
With this background knowledge and the full support of my complete team, I am convinced [that I am] well prepared to face this new challenge.
How will OCTANORM benefit from your sales & marketing background?
In answer to the fast-moving markets and the difficult global economic situation, the demand for a fast, flexible and creative interference raises by the day. This trend affects not only our line of business, but also all the other companies operating in this field. That means for OCTANORM that we have to clearly define ourselves in this market and to implement all necessary adjustments internally as well as externally. In my previous career, I have been able to gain wide experiences in marketing, sales and strategic management. With this mix of know-how, I believe that I can make a positive contribution to the future development of OCTANORM.
What are your plans or goals for OCTANORM?
Basically, we will work hard to reposition and strengthen the trademark OCTANORM from the inside again. Our core business is affected by plagiarists and a rough price competition, which results in getting easily replaced and squeezed out of the market. Our future goal must and will be that our performance in service and products has to be even more innovative and unique. We have to focus on the development of products that will fully meet our customers’ requirements rather than to compete with our competitors. We therefore already stocked up the man power in the design, engineering and processing departments as well as initiated strategic actions.
Did your predecessor, Hans Bruder, offer any advice or training during your transition to OCTANORM?
Hans Bruder and I have been working together very closely and exchanged experiences for quite a while already. I can benefit from his network, and while visiting customers, partners and licensees in Germany and abroad, I got to know a lot of people in person. It is also very helpful for me that Hans Bruder will continue to be a co-partner of OCTANORM, the general manager of the newly founded OSPI GmbH (OCTANORM Service Partner International) and an active advisory partner.
Did you offer any training or advice to Delf Henning, who took over your previous role at EXPOMOBIL?
Delf Henning has been in a leading position as a sales manager with Expomobil for almost two years now. He has years of work experience and is a real expert in the field of floor covers. He knows the company, the staff and the customers very well. In addition, since end of last year I assigned a lot of duties to him and involved him in all of the strategic arrangements. Therefore, I can say in retrospect that the change from me to Delf Henning was very successful and absolutely down-to-earth for Expomobil and for the customers.
With Hans Bruder now serving as general manager for OSPI Network, do you foresee any opportunities for you both to work with each other?
Hans Bruder and I have been living [and] practicing this close collaboration since years already. Due to the fact that our worldwide major OCTANORM customers and partners are mostly also members of the OSPI network, we do have a huge intersection of interests.
This means, that Hans Bruder will, just as mentioned before, be at my side as a consultant and co-worker on occasion of various visits and events taking place within the OCTANORM community. From now on, Hans Bruder will intensify the networking and cooperation inside OSPI even more. This will result in many perceptions, ideas and inspirations, which will prove to be productive and interesting for OCTANORM as well.
OCTANORM has been and will be the steady center of the OSPI idea, which is precisely why we will stay in a very close communication and cooperation.