The Zollikofen-based company GEOTEST implemented its first projects in Chile about 10 years ago thanks to existing contacts and specific business opportunities, says Bernhard Krummenacher, member of the Executive Committee. Initially, the company served the Chilean market from Switzerland: “We traveled to Chile with a team, took the photographs and measurements there and then completed the analyses back home. Over time, however, we have seen that it is worthwhile to have a base there.”
“Personal relationships are enormously important: you get to know people and they recommend you.” Bernhard Krummenacher
The topographical conditions, which are very similar to those in Switzerland, are another reason why Chile is an attractive market for the company. The narrow South American country is marked by the Andes mountain range. It has high mountains, glaciers, permafrost, avalanches and other natural hazards. A company that specializes in innovative solutions in these areas is of course welcome here.
Success factor #1: Niche positioning in permafrost, glacier and natural hazard areas
Since its foundation in 2015, the Santiago de Chile branch has grown to a 10-strong team. “We are one of the few companies specializing in permafrost, glaciers and natural hazards in this mountainous country. We almost have trouble keeping up with our own growth,” says Lukas Rohrbach, Regional Director South America.
GEOTEST’s services in Chile include environmental impact assessments for mine extensions, which are carried out in accordance with local requirements and the defined investigation parameters. The intensities of the various dangerous natural processes are modeled and, based on a subsequent risk calculation, the cost-effectiveness of protective measures is calculated and then the best protective measures are implemented.
“Our positioning in a niche is an important success factor for us,” confirms Bernhard Krummenacher. As a Swiss company, they also benefit from the “Swissness” quality feature. The people on the ground know that when a Swiss company says a service will be completed at time X, they can expect it done then, and to a high standard of quality.
Success factor #2: Reliable network and successful Chilean-Swiss cooperation
“A reliable network is essential for Swiss companies operating in a foreign country,” says Rohrbach.
Mark Untersander, Head of Trade Point Chile, also confirms the high importance of having a network: “In addition to the technical and price aspects, relationship management with stakeholders is also of crucial importance for closing a deal in Chile.”
Thanks to the close cooperation between the Trade Point Chile, the Embassy and the Chilean-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, Swiss companies have a good network at their disposal. “These organizations can provide very good support in setting up the network and are also a great help in organizing fact finding missions and meetings with authorities,” says Lukas Rohrbach.
GEOTEST AG offers services in the field of earth sciences, such as geology, environment, natural hazards, hydraulic engineering and project development. The company has various branches and participations in Switzerland, operates worldwide and has an office in Santiago de Chile. In the Santiago de Chile office, the company identifies current and future water resources and investigates the effects of climate change on glaciers and natural hazards.