Editor’s note: The Netherlands-American Chamber of Commerce Southeast, based in Atlanta, publishes a monthly interview spotlighting one of its members. This month, the organization caught up with Johan Schutz of CORE Business Innovation, a strategy consultancy. The interview has been reprinted with permission and edited for length and clarity.
NACCSE: What is your business industry category or specialty?
Mr. Schutz: CORE Business Innovation helps companies of all sizes and types of industries improve their business results by developing innovation, growth and go-to-market strategies.
We have deep industry expertise in technology and ocean/land transportation and logistics but can also serve other industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and life sciences, financial services, and government. As part of this we also focus on Dutch or European companies that want to trade with or invest in the U.S.
NACCSE: How do you describe your job to people outside the industry?
Mr. Schutz: Basically, we help clients improve business results by finding attractive markets, developing competitive solutions and bringing those solutions to market.
NACCSE: Who are your main competitors and what differentiates you from the competition? What makes you unique?
Mr. Schutz: Our primary competitors are midsize and larger consulting firms. Our key differentiation includes:
1. Integrated expertise and attention. Larger firms often use junior consultants (that lack broad business experience) for project delivery and only bring in senior partners for sales and final presentations. Instead, I bring about 30 years of broad industry, functional, and consulting experience into each project and work directly with clients from initial consultation throughout project delivery.
2. Collaboration. Our approach is highly collaborative, perhaps more than other firms, as I have realized clients gain the most when we can bring together both the client’s own expertise and our consulting expertise.
3. Flexibility. We can be more flexible than larger firms that may have strict targets and constraints on the type of clients and projects they work with.
4. Value. We bring large consulting firm experience and approaches to mid-market clients that need help with their strategies, but cannot afford McKinsey, Bain or Accenture, or mid-market consulting firms.
NACCSE: How was the business started?
Mr. Schutz: I started CORE Business Innovation in 2018 after 12 years with Gartner Consulting, five years with CSC Consulting, and eight years in the ocean transportation/logistics industry, as well as completing my MBA from Dartmouth College. Personally, I started this business to be able to better enjoy developing business relationships and providing value to clients.
NACCSE: How many employees does the business have?
Mr. Schutz: I run the business. I am supported by my wife, and reach into a network of specialists as needed. As the business grows we will extend this network, build formal partnerships and hire full-time workers as needed.
NACCSE: How did you end up in Atlanta?
Mr. Schutz: After a BBA in the Netherlands and internships in the United Kingdom and the U.S., I started my career in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in the ocean shipping industry. However, after 2.5 years in the Netherlands, my wife wanted to move back to Florida (where she and I originally met) for family reasons.
After five years there, we moved to New Hampshire for my MBA. After that we moved to Atlanta and have been here ever since, as we really enjoy the quality of life and have built up a steady base of friends here.
NACCSE: What is your No. 1 business goal over the next year?
Mr. Schutz: My No. 1 goal is to increase our client base, including developing some ‘anchor’ clients for which we do ongoing projects. Ideal clients include companies in the technology, transportation, logistics and supply chain industries, and Dutch/European companies that want to invest or expand in the U.S.
NACCSE: What is the best advice you have received regarding doing business with Americans/Dutch?
Mr. Schutz: Besides some cultural differences (such as Dutch directness – which I’ve tried to adjust for myself, although not always successfully), I believe the Dutch share many similarities with Americans, such as openness to new ideas and entrepreneurship.
At the same time, the Dutch have developed expertise in specific business areas and industries (for example: international trade, logistics, transportation, water engineering) that could benefit U.S. businesses and consumers. My business can help in bringing that expertise together.
NACCSE: Any other personal information you would like to share, e.g. hobbies, special interests, family etc..
Mr. Schutz: My wife and I enjoy socializing with friends across many cultures and love to travel across continents and spend time with our families in Martinique and the Netherlands.
I also thoroughly enjoy practicing Aikido since 2005, and spend about 4-6 hours/week on this martial art. Aikido’s intent is generally more peaceful than many other martial arts, and focuses on blending and redirecting energy rather than destroying the opponent. Aikido helps me improve my mind, spirit and body, and work with a great group of people to help each other become our best.
Finally, I have been fascinated with astronomy since my youth, and am really excited by the amazing astronomical discoveries enabled by advances in technology and global collaboration. I am currently learning astrophotography, and am a member of the Atlanta Astronomy Club.