Happy Birthday, Made in Germany!

Posted on August 15, 2015

We celebrate Made in Germany’s second anniversary today; it’s been 24 months since that memorable trip to the Secretary of State’s office. I remember that it caught a few people by surprise, especially my West Virginia family and my network of collaborators.

My Father-in-Law knew of my entrepreneurial roots, and he had been encouraging me for years to put the skillset that I forged in the metropolitan area of Germany’s Ruhrgebiet to use and do my own thing. What catalyzed my decision to follow his advice is the American way, the go-getter attitude, which differentiates the way business is done in America versus the calm, structured and calculated way entrepreneurs act in Germany.

On my first day I visited five vendors and a fellow design company, setting the pace for the years to come. I harnessed the initially overwhelming set of tasks and have learned that success is in the balance, I can enjoy the ebb as much as the flow, these days. I have stopped seeing every individual I meet as a potential client, but rather focus on my core strength: To solve people’s problems.

Initially, that included using my experience in Information Technology and offering it for hire on a per-hour model. But I learned the hard way, that my audience would not solicit marketing advice or business consulting from the guy that removed their viruses or restored the performance of their computers, disregarding the experience of nearly three decades in the advertising and marketing realm.

A month into my newfound solopreneurship, I experienced the first headwinds. The resistance and disregard I experienced fueled the want and perceived need for specialization. So Made in Germany focused on the professional, technical and scientific service industry, the best decision I made since marrying my wife in 2005.

And I realized that, just like the Apple Watch, Made in Germany is not for everybody. The Transparency Paradigm which constitutes 100% transparency in billing and operations, promoting dialogue and inviting the client to trust and depend on, is the direct measure of accountability in marketing and creative strategy, an industry that long has carried the stigma of using smoke and mirrors to justify a hefty price tag. Like most custom services, it creates a higher level of satisfaction for both the client and Made in Germany. Born from the proverbial German sense of duty, it now represents the core of what this company stands for.

Three seasons later, in the Summer of 2014, we celebrated the early success well and gathered with clients, collaborators, friends, and family for an early Oktoberfest. Precious memories, and time well spent. About that time I understood the conundrum that the voice of Made in Germany, though closely associated to me, is not one of an individual, but stands on its own. Rather than communicating an individual passion and thought, it is fortified by team effort. We have worked with strategic partners here in West Virginia to ensure the quality of the work provided, and will continue to do so.

This month, I thanked our clients for the trust they have put in the company, and for the work they have sent our way. I truly enjoy working with them; the ongoing dialogue is vital to the quality of the work and the impact we make on their audiences. This business was started to revolutionize the way marketing and advertising services are provided in the Mountain State and beyond, and to – as Steve Jobs put it – “make a dent in the universe”.

It is a fact that the money spent on Made in Germany has a direct impact on the state economy, and strengthens the small business infrastructure. The State Director of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, Kristina Oliver, recognized us as one of the champions for small business in West Virginia. We will continue to educate businesses on communications etiquette, and support non-profit entities like United Way of Harrison County and Shiloh Village. Our clients make this possible.

I want to give credit to my business coach and mentor Terry Cyfers for asking the right questions, providing exciting challenges, helping me use my strengths, and face my weaknesses – patience and accounting. While I did participate in the Profit Mastery workshops and found an excellent partner to provide the latter, I still struggle with the former. But I use it as fuel for the journey.

So here’s to year three, I hope you’ll be a part of it!

2 Replies to "Happy Birthday, Made in Germany!"

  • Nancy Leffingwell
    August 18, 2015 (8:12 pm)

    Happy Birthday Made in Germany. I’m so happy you’re a success. You deserve it!

    The first time I met you was when the Blueprint Community for Richwood had a meeting in Beckley and you were excited about coming to our town for the Create WV Conference. I know you saw possibilities in our little town that others possibly saw as well. It seems our thinking has become stagnant here. If MIG has any ideas on how we can improve our situation, we could certainly use them. I’m still impressed with your company and accomplishments, and I’m sure you will do very well in the future. Honesty and trust are wonderful additions to the knowledge you provide. Keep up the good work.

    • Jens Kiel
      August 18, 2015 (9:48 pm)

      Thank you for the kind words, Nancy. I see great opportunity for Richwood, as we work to strengthen the infrastructure and economy of our beautiful state. Our greatest resource are the people, and I am honored to have gotten to know you, Robert and others in Richwood through the years.