Editor’s note: Dutch companies have a profound impact on the Atlanta economy, with the Netherlands government estimating that the small nation’s investment and trade with the U.S. accounts for 685,000 American jobs, more than 24,000 of them in Georgia.
But sometimes, either the firms themselves or their Dutch origins are under the radar. The Atlanta-based Netherlands-American Chamber of Commerce Southeast tries to boost awareness through its monthly member spotlights, emailed interviews that mainly go to the chamber’s online subscribers.
In May, the chamber featured Expand360, a consultancy that helps companies with their international market-access plans. The chamber allowed Global Atlanta to reprint the Q&A below. For more information on the NACCSE, click here.
NACCSE: What is your business industry category or specialty?
Expand360: We help companies from any nationality to launch or expand in new markets by developing incremental business while defining the strategy for sustainable growth. We make international expansion more efficient by using our local knowledge and network in Europe and the Americas.
How do you describe your job to people outside the industry?
We work side-by-side with our customers to align the company’s future objectives with the international expansion venture. During this process, we identify milestones that will help us accomplish goals. On the subject of industry: While the partners’ background relates to airline and airport, we are in talks with companies outside these industries.
Who are your main competitors and what differentiates you from the competition? What makes you unique?
We’re not sure who competitors might be. There are a variety of companies that help companies expand by offering legal services, accounting services, etc. We offer international business and market development. We are unique by constructing deals with ‘skin in the game’ for Expand360. We will become a trusted partner of our customer, not a temporary consultant.
How was the business started?
Partner Peter van der Lende has been working for several years as an independent consultant in the same area Expand360 is now operating. With his experience in Europe, North America and Latin America, Peter was contracted by Ewout Cassee for the expansion by Vanderlande Industries in Mexico.
When Ewout Cassee decided to leave Vanderlande after 25 years, Ewout and Peter decided to join forces. Particularly Ewout’s experience of having started the Vanderlande operations in North America and growing the company to a $200 million-plus a year business with more than 700 employees is a valuable asset for Expand360 customers.
How many employees does the business have?
Expand360 has two partners: Ewout Cassee and Peter van der Lende and may work with subcontractors or associates where needed.
How did you end up in Atlanta?
Partner Ewout Cassee ended up in Atlanta to start up the Vanderlande business in North America. Partner Peter van der Lende was transferred from Mexico City to Atlanta with Delta Air Lines.
What is your No. 1 business goal over the next year?
Our number one business goal is — apart from possible ad-hoc short-term initiatives — to contract 3-4 international companies for long-term contracts that represent true partnerships.
It is very important for Expand360 to select companies that clearly show the potential and that have the strategic intent and resources to expand. In addition, we firmly believe that we should focus on our personal strengths and engage in activities related to those strengths. We will make sure that we enjoy what we do.
What is the best advice you have received regarding doing business with the Dutch/Americans?
Do not assume. Many companies fail by assuming too much, especially by viewing international expansion as an extension of previous international projects or even as an extension of their home market.
Any other personal information you would like to share, e.g. hobbies, special interests, family, etc.?
We like to think in threes. Our website is in three languages. Our approach has three milestones. Ewout has three sons. Peter has three daughters.
Ewout Cassee & Peter van der Lende
One Alliance Center
3500 Lenox Road, 15th Floor
Atlanta GA 30026