Global challenges, more cohesion

How an international company is experiencing the pandemic

  • Vehicle identification specialist TÖNNJES operates more than 50 joint ventures worldwide
  • Employees around the globe discuss the coronavirus pandemic
  • Tough lockdowns paralyze economic development in emerging markets
  • Increasing demand for license plates for motorized two-wheelers

Delmenhorst, March 2021.

The past year and the start of 2021 pose particular challenges for companies. The spread of the coronavirus affects almost every country in the world – but in different ways. Vehicle identification specialist TÖNNJES operates joint ventures at around 50 locations around the globe and generates the majority of its sales through business abroad. At a digital meeting in December, representatives from countries including the Philippines, USA, Bolivia, South Africa, Hungary and many other TÖNNJES branches discussed how they are experiencing the pandemic.

Long-term orders secure productions

The various lockdowns in particular have made TÖNNJES’ global business more difficult. In the Philippines, for example, the government had extremely strict regulations. “Public transport stopped running and companies had to organize shuttle services for their employees,” says Salvador Aque. The island nation has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19 compared to other Asian countries; the pandemic has plunged the country into a deep recession. TÖNNJES’ local joint venture in Manila is nevertheless economically stable. The reasons for this are a major order from the previous year and the introduction of the IDeSTIX headlamp tag. The electronic RAIN RFID sticker from TÖNNJES is affixed to the headlight and enables contactless identification of motorized two-wheelers.

Strict lockdowns and curfews

Kenji Schneider from Panama also reports an increase in demand for motorcycle license plates. The lockdown has boosted the supply business in the Latin American country, which is also suffering enormously from the pandemic. The authorities responded in 2020 with a night-time curfew. “We work in a three-shift system, which we had to restructure because nobody was allowed to leave the building between 7 pm and 5 am. We also needed special permits for our production,” says Schneider. The situation in the USA is completely different: “It was a challenge. Ideally, we would have liked more specific instructions from the federal government,” says Paul Fussner from Cleveland, Ohio. Instead, each of the 50 US states had to take a more individualized approach, which varied from state to state. The inconsistent handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States has probably contributed to the high infection figures.

Close collaboration thanks to digital exchange

Jochen Betz, Managing Director of TÖNNJES, takes a positive view of the company’s development in view of the circumstances: “Although sales will fall slightly this year, we are still in a strong position – especially due to the many different branches.” The pandemic has also shown that investing in long-term business relationships has paid off. “We are experiencing an exceptional situation together and are more digitally connected than ever,” says Betz. “Even before the coronavirus, the health and protection of our employees was our top priority.”

As TÖNNJES has been pursuing a global joint venture strategy since the early 1990s and has set up subsidiaries abroad together with local partners instead of just exporting, supply bottlenecks during the pandemic have so far been kept to a minimum. The individual productions were able to react autonomously to the respective local lockdowns and take care of the supply of employees promptly.

TÖNNJES is cautiously optimistic for 2021. Thanks to the global partner network and the intensive use of online conferences and webinars, the company was not only able to maintain contact with existing customers despite massive travel restrictions, but also acquire new customers.