Managing market entry: Three tips from PB Swiss Tools

Eva Jaisli is co-owner and CEO of the Emmental-based tool manufacturer, which has been exporting since the 1960s. She offers three tips on how SMEs can grow internationally between protectionism and globalization here.

Eva Jaislin offers three tips on how SMEs can grow internationally between protectionism and globalization.
Eva Jaislin offers three tips on how SMEs can grow internationally between protectionism and globalization.

1. Reduce complexity: First analyze, then decide

More than two-thirds of PB Swiss’ tools are exported to more than 80 countries worldwide. With around 150 employees, the company has gained extensive experience in internationalization over the past fifty years.

The first step to export success: “With an expert team from S-GE, we analyze the possible sales volume, growth prospects, currency problems, customs and other import conditions, as well as the competitive situation and of course the purchasing power in the country,” explains CEO Eva Jaisli. Another key factor is possible free trade agreements between Switzerland and the destination country, which has an influence the competitiveness of Swiss branded products. PB Swiss Tools normally works with foreign trade partners abroad; these make the brand and the tools known across their distribution channels. Another central question is how this trade works in the country. A look into this slowly reveals what turnover would be possible with which trading partners, what investments must be made and whether the necessary revenue is realistic.

Trade barriers play an important role in this analysis phase: they have certainly tipped the balance for PB Swiss Tools once in the past, and led to its first decision against a market – that was in Brazil.

The biggest hurdle for us is usually getting a picture of the complexity with regard to opportunities and risks so that we can make a well-founded decision for or against a potential market

says Eva Jaisli.

Although protectionist sentiment is growing worldwide, she has not really experienced an increase in the number of specific trade barriers. “Tariff or non-tariff measures, that's nothing new. We simply learn to deal with them.”

2. The business model must fit the product

As Eva Jaisli sees it, market entry can only succeed if the business model and the strategy chime, and the product brings unique benefits to customers in the country. She talks about how PB Swiss Tools cultivated its first foreign market: Japan in the 1960s. Back then, the Emmental-based company was the first in the world to produce tools with corrosion protection and attractive glossy surfaces. This was a real USP, and was also in line with the requirements of the Japanese. “Exporters must focus on the USPs and UAPs if they want to sell high-quality Swiss quality worldwide,” Eva Jaisli advises. This piece of advice turned Japan into a success story for PB Swiss Tools. All markets are not created equal, however: in Indonesia, for example, Jaisli and her team came to the conclusion that there just wasn’t enough purchasing power in the market. Nevertheless, the country remains on the watch list.

3. In dialogue with partners

Choosing the right partner is a strategic success factor for the business model of PB Swiss Tools. In a time of digital transformation, PB Swiss Tools employs an omnichannel strategy that changes the relationship with partner companies; this enables PB Swiss Tools to address new end-consumers in industry and trade over new digital distribution and communication channels. More and more do-it-yourself enthusiasts are becoming interested in quality products, and this has an influence on sales in traditional and online retailing. Competitive dynamics will be a challenge for manufacturers and sales representatives. “Internationalization and digitization create new opportunities and risks,” says Eva Jaisli, “In dialogue with our partners, we are looking for the right solutions to increase customer satisfaction and market share worldwide.”


About Eva Jaisli

Eva Jaisli has been CEO and co-owner of PB Swiss Tools AG, an international manufacturer of quality tools and medical instruments, since 1997. She is a member of several advisory and foundation boards, including SWISSMEM, Switzerland Global Enterprise, Berner Kantonalbank and Concordia. Eva Jaisli holds an MBA in International Marketing, a teaching certificate and studied industrial psychology and business administration in Germany and abroad .

About PB Swiss Tools

PB Swiss Tools has been run as a family business since 1878. Its high-quality products are still entirely developed and sustainably produced in Switzerland to this day. This results in hand tools of unsurpassed precision, hardness and elasticity: excellent tools for good work. It all started with a village smithy in the heart of Swiss Emmental. The enterprise produced only agricultural hardware until well into the 20th century. Then Paul Baumann (PB) brought his son Max Sr. into the business. Its path to success was mapped out with the production of hand tools, which were originally manufactured for the Swiss army. Demand for Swiss quality tools from trade and industry rose rapidly and steadily, as well as internationally. As early as 1960, PB Swiss Tools was exporting to all five continents. It expanded production facilities and automated processes. Innovativeness anchored in solid craftsmanship remains a signature of PB Swiss Tools to this day.PB Swiss Tools has been run by the fourth generation since 1981. In 2013, the company diversified its product range with screwing instruments for doctors. 150 expert employees dedicate themselves to the product range of PB Swiss Tools every day. They believe in 100% vertical integration in Switzerland and guarantee quality, permanent innovation and long-term customer relationships. PB Swiss Tools meets the expectations of an international clientele. They value the commitment to sustainable development from PB Swiss Tools as a Swiss family business. Today, PB Swiss Tools continues to develop and manufacture uncompromising Swiss quality: precise, durable and reliable. Anyone whose job involves screwing appreciates the excellent tools and instruments. Work with the best.


Wie kann Ihr Unternehmen im Spannungsfeld zwischen Globalisierung und Protektionismus wachsen? Tauschen Sie sich am Aussenwirtschaftsforum mit 600 teilnehmenden KMU und Experten aus, hören Sie spannende Referate zum internationalen Wachstum und nutzen Sie die Chance, Ihre Ideen und Strategien für den Export mit unseren Beratern und Experten aus allen Weltregionen zu besprechen.

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