A small company holds its own against international competition in the beer industry. The example of M&L Consulting shows that this is possible. Even so, export deals also present some challenges in this case.
Surviving as a small company in the beer industry, alongside multinational giants? Impossible. You might think so. Ernst Meier, certified brewer and CEO of M&L Consulting GmbH in St.Gallen, proves the opposite. M&L Consulting advises breweries in the area of filtration technology. With its services, it supports its customers in improving their quality and efficiency, and creates new concepts as well as the detailed engineering for this area of production. M&L Consulting outsources the actual manufacture of the equipment. This enables it to concentrate on its core competencies. One “M&L speciality” is, for example, its long-lasting filter cartridge, which cleans the beer of yeast, rubber residue, etc. with diatomaceous earth (alginate powder).
The Recipe for Success
M&L Consulting supplies customers in every part of the world and is currently growing: from originally two employees in 2005, the small enterprise now employs 12 people, with a total of up to 20 employees together with its partner companies working on M&L projects. What is its recipe for success? “If you have a certain talent, you work hard and you can count on skilled employees, you can achieve something,” says Ernst Meier. The ability to see things through the eyes of the customer is another essential factor: When a contract is awarded the M&L employees first listen to the customer’s ideas, defining the task together with him. Only then do they start concept development.
A Mexican brewery is one of their longstanding customers. It commissioned M&L Consulting to equip a complete space with production facilities worth around EUR 3 million. As in other industries, tough contractual terms are the rule even in this small industry: in spite of the fact they have worked together for years, the customer is not prepared to make a down payment. “If we want to stay in business we have to be able to offer finance for the project,” said Ernst Meier. The long payment periods, which often only start when the goods arrive on the customer’s factory site, are a significant reason why M&L Consulting sometimes has to “ditch” projects. So that this does not happen in this case, SERV is supporting this transaction with working capital insurance, making financing easier.