Globalisation has come to be almost synonymous with cheap labour and cheaper goods. While this may be true of certain multinational supply chains, Germany's SMEs, also known as Mittelstand companies, see more than a quick profit on the horizon. In fact, these businesses are willing to sacrifice short-term gains to achieve the sustainable success that has made them the backbone of Germany's economy, an approach that has been called "patient capitalism".
And the key to their success in recent years has been a pivot to Asia. Based on a 2015 study, Asia accounts for 20% of the global revenues of German Mittelstand Champions (GMCs), which refers to the larger and globally active Mittelstand companies, many of them with annual revenues of up to 1 billion euros (US$1.2 billion).
GMCs are renowned for finding niches and dominating them, growing to become global market leaders. Examples include Rohde & Schwarz, SSI SCHAEFER and MANN+HUMMEL, which are world leaders in their highly specialised sectors.
Senior executives such as Peter Riedel, President and COO of test and measurement specialist Rohde & Schwarz, recognise that a full commitment is needed to make the most of a golden opportunity the region presents. "We don't just see our Singapore office as an 'extended workbench', but as an integrated part of the company," he says.