The Challenge of Supporting the Big Boys

When Dancing with Elephants You Better Know the Right Steps

At AS-Schneider we serve a number of very large global players in the oil and gas industry. As a premier instrumentation and pipeline valve manufacturer with over 140 years of history, we have been fortunate to build relationships with some global players. Expanding outside of our home market to support these customers has been a significant challenge.These huge global players expect us to deliver world class solutions that fit the local markets that they operate in but at the same time maintain our high quality and performance standards.

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So what do these big global players look like and what do they expect? As national oil and gas companies started hunting for new reserves they found themselves in many strange places. European players crossed the Atlantic and setup shop in North America. American players headed out to Asia and Russia. Finally, all the players met up in the Middle East where large oil and gas reserves were found. Many of the players also went off-shore and recently via fracking and horizontal drilling new gas reserves has been tapped.

The global movement of the national oil and gas players was not restricted to themselves as many of their suppliers like AS-Schneider decided to follow. It would have been easy if industry in other parts of the world was exactly as it had been in the home market. Clearly from a cost and standardization standpoint it would be best to sell the same kit all over the world. But we all found that globalization is not that easy. Every market tosses up a host of new and unique issues from technical standards to legal compliance issues to different processes.

These challenges represent opportunity

With all suppliers facing the same set of challenges, at AS-Schneider we thought “local knowledge” was going to be the critical factor in our success. So we followed our partners and learned local lessons before making the big push. Understanding the local conditions needs to inform the entire business. Starting at the product conceptualization and design stage we needed to get things right. But having the right product is not enough, we needed to get all the correct certifications, safety marks and ensure that marketing and product manuals were in the relevant languages. Finally, setting up strong after sales support centers and processes needed to be in place ahead of the business.

Different operational approaches and legal differences in some markets offer new business opportunities. In the American market, due to strong private property laws, gas pipelines must be metered at the entry and exit of the property lines. This offers a valve sales opportunity to AS-Schneider that we would not get in other markets with different property laws. We also found that the Americans “cleaned” their gas downstream from the well unlike Europeans who do that typically at the well. This different technological approach impacts the performance of valves and the maintenance regimes needed. All these differences can initially cause headaches but they can also offer new business opportunities.

Finding ways to support the global players is a big challenge but one that offers new opportunities. AS-Schneider has embraced this challenge and is now successfully operating around the world with subsidiaries and offices in more than 20 countries. Input from all these locations informs us technically on what we are doing today and what we might need to be doing tomorrow. One size does not fit all but stepping up to the challenge of addressing your big customer’s global problems can be a recipe for success and growth. At AS-Schneider – the journey continues.

Article first published here.

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