in Vol. 15 - May Issue - Year 2014
Successful launching of MFN CHINA!
Rosanne Baiker, Vice President of MFN
Rosanne Baiker, Vice President of MFN, has been with the organization from the very beginning. She is in charge of a multiplicity of strategic decision-making plans and most recently, she successfully introduced MFN CHINA. This print publication is focusing on peening, blasting, mass finishing and parts cleaning, solely dedicated to the Chinese market. For this reason, Andrzej Wojtas, Chief Editor of MFN INTERNATIONAL, took the opportunity to interview her.
(?) A. W.: Rosanne, we have been working together for over a decade and there have been many hurdles to overcome during these many years. Before we talk about MFN CHINA, please give us an insight into how everything started.
(!) R. B.: Well, MFN started very small; however, it grew continuously over the years. The development was never too rapid, and we initially were not taking too large risks. First, we just had one magazine with a few pages, then various process-training seminars were added. We started to publish books and carry out market studies, so the magazine got thicker and so forth. Everything was done step by step, with very little investment. So very soon, we were independent from any bank or other credit organization. Our ideas always had to have a global appeal, so we developed our business concept accordingly. Our growing team came from all over the world. With a Chief Editor operating from Poland, layout and administration in the Chinese-speaking region, printing in Singapore, the head office in Switzerland - that not only produced an interesting work surrounding, but was also a key puzzle-piece for the success of MFN!
(?) A. W.: What is your role at MFN and what are your responsibilities?
(!) R. B.: MFN is a very lean organization without too much hierarchy. Besides coordinating our editorial and administration office in the Chinese-speaking region, I have to make sure that our team of over 60 members coming from around 20 countries can communicate in the right fashion with each other so that they all benefit from the success of MFN.
We have offices that represent MFN for the magazine and training around the globe. At present, we are organizing education in many different languages for more than 1000 people every year. That brings many logistical and cultural challenges.
Having lived and worked in different countries myself, this certainly helped bringing everything together. Furthermore, while my educational background is not especially needed for my line of work, having graduated from an international hotel management school in Switzerland while also speaking around six languages definitely supported me in developing a better understanding of the many different business cultures around the globe. Many good ideas fail due to lack of comprehension of how to deal with local business cultures. Working for a magazine that is distributed to nearly 70 countries, I needed to take the extra step.
(?) A. W.: While many newspapers and magazines seem to be in a difficult position, you decided to publish a new title called MFN CHINA. Can you explain this decision?
(!) R. B.: Our organization publishes "special-interest" magazines. They always have been in a much more comfortable situation compared to newspapers or mainstream magazines. The majority of newspapers buy the news and pictures from a few agencies, which results in newspaper "A" seeming to offer the same as newspaper "B". That makes it very competitive. However, special interest magazines have always been in a niche market with a very loyal readership. We are luckily in just this segment of publications. In addition, even in the "special-interest" market of metal finishing and surface preparation, we are only dedicated to peening, blasting, mass finishing, and parts cleaning. This is a clearly defined market and we want to provide useful information exclusively for this segment. Accordingly, we do not only collect this special information and knowledge from the industry, but also have a training division with over 30 trainers and scientific advisors. This demonstrates that in this particular field, we have core competencies, and these are supported by relationships to universities and research centres around the globe, publication of books, market studies, and consulting. By offering this "special-interest" package to the industry, we were able to put MFN in a very comfortable strategic position without facing fierce competitiveness.
The decision to establish MFN CHINA was purely based on market numbers. Market studies showed that China is already the world¡¦s largest single market for metallic abrasives. The same applies for shot peening and blasting equipment. It is an educated guess, but it is safe to say that the yearly shot peening and blasting equipment sales in China alone will be above that of Europe + North America combined (number of machines) extended through 2020. Therefore, our main concern was not the question did the market in China deserve its own publication for this industry, but how were we to handle all the logistics and create a magazine that would fulfill our quality requirements.
(?) A. W.: Being the Chief Editor of MFN INTERNATIONAL, I know that MFN CHINA is not just a translation of existing material. What is the approach for MFN CHINA?
(!) R. B.: It has been very clear to me that the topics in MFN CHINA have to concern mainly the Chinese market. That means it has to be written by Chinese companies referring to projects that take place in China. Furthermore, the market is so big that many Chinese manufacturers do not have to export or to depend on a market outside of China. They do not necessarily care about projects that take place in Europe or North & South America.
One of the largest hurdles to take was to find a good selection of authors that were able to submit editorials of substance. It took us over 3 years of preparation before we were ready to go ahead. Not just authors had to be found; we needed a very good Chief Editor as well as connections to research centres and universities. Of course not everything published in MFN CHINA has to be coming from a Chinese source. We could benefit from certain educational columns such as "Standard Forum", "Trainer Column" and "Nadcap Column" that are also published in MFN INTERNATIONAL. Since they mostly teach useful process knowledge, it is also appreciated in MFN CHINA. The same is valid for our "Science Update" in which we usually print the latest research results coming from universities.
(?) A. W.: How did you get the subscriber addresses to get started for MFN CHINA?
(!) R. B.: It was very difficult and time-consuming to collect the correct postal Chinese addresses. We already had a good base due to MFN INTERNATIONAL, but it was by far not enough to start a magazine. MFN never purchases addresses since we do not believe in the quality of purchased contacts. Therefore, we had to do it the hard way. Visiting exhibitions in China, calling existing contacts to help us find exactly the right local address, approaching certain companies directly, etc. Looking at the man-hours spent just on finding the right addresses, one research staff member spent one full year doing nothing else! We were very strict on this issue. If 100 addresses were found in one day, I would get suspicious and double-check the quality of the postal addresses. We know from each and every Chinese postal address where it comes from, and we list it accordingly.
(?) A. W.: Have there been difficulties in the very beginning?
(!) R. B.: Yes, actually quite a few. Nevertheless, I do not want to go into the details. We benefited greatly from the fact that the editorial and layout office of MFN INTERNATIONAL is located in a Chinese-speaking region, so they do not have any language or cultural barrier problems. Without an already existing Chinese-based infrastructure, we would probably not have succeeded.
(?) A. W.: How do you see the future of MFN CHINA?
(!) R. B.: At some point, we would like to publish MFN CHINA six times instead of only four times a year and also continuously increase not just the number of pages but also the circulation. We will not force it, since the quality of the editorials is our main asset. Furthermore, we would like to do more training in the years to come, offering not just shot peening education, but also other process training in China. In any case, we clearly want to be the leading magazine for our core processes in China.
(?) A. W.: Well, Rosanne, I think we are almost done. I know you do not like to be interviewed..., but any final remarks?
(!) R. B.: Yes, I know there was a lot of pressure for our editorial office handling MFN CHINA in the very beginning, so I would like to thank my team and especially our Chief Editor Ru-wei Liu for supporting this idea and for helping to make it possible!
(?) A. W.: Thank you for your time, Rosanne!
Photographer: Cher Kaufmann