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June 24, 2019

From Delhi Belly to Border Control. Travelling with RHF is never boring.

Our avowed principle of remaining close to our customers has led to a few internal discussions about new cross-sectoral fields of business. And we rarely run out of ideas, as they are deeply rooted in practical experience. Here are a few of the latest highlights.

We would be a pretty successful consulting business if we were specialised in obtaining visas at the drop of a hat. This way we are certain to arrive on our customer’s doorstep less than 48 hours after their call, including a ten-hour flight. Our spontaneous approach and commitment to teamwork have frequently enabled us to resolve problems at the customer’s test bed, even without consulting the manufacturer. Let’s not forget, a test bed company recently demanded a record of all faults and then submitted a cost estimate with travel itinerary for approval. But we had solved the problem and were winging our way back home, even before pen was put to paper.

Another auspicious option would be to open a travel agency, because just browsing the list of destinations visited by the RHF crew already reads like a travel prospectus. Sweden, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Russia – to name just a few of the short and medium-haul flights. And the agency would have plenty to say for people who prefer journeying further afield, for instance about the United States, Mexico, Brazil, China, Japan and India. TripAdvisor can shut up shop; placing a call to RHF would be more than enough. Certainly when it comes to travel dates, times, accommodation and local cuisine. But we are mainly familiar with industrial estates and not the tourist highlights. That can be exciting as well: while the production facilities in India are populated by lively little monkeys, other countries seem to be busier than beavers in devising new safety regulations.

We certainly recommend dining in the company canteen as a treat for the taste buds. After all, it’s the best place to experience authentic local food. But it is a daunting experience from time to time. Ignorance can also be bliss, at least when it comes to the ingredients. But so far we have not compiled any statistics on how many man-days we’ve lost to traveller’s tummy. It can probably be classified as an ‘occupational hazard’ in our line of work. But let’s not get carried away with our taste for German cooking. We’ve experienced plenty of international business visitors who found our sausages frankly revolting, responded goggle-eyed to knuckle of pork, or begged us to take them to an establishment serving food familiar to them after only two days in Germany. The thought of another morsel of hearty German cooking seemed to appal them.

Our most lucrative side hustle in the consulting business would certainly be the management of customs clearance. These days we are bold enough – in urgent cases – to transport items in our personal luggage, accompanied of course by the correct, complete and registered customs documents. Although we have experienced often enough that our German rules are not recognised everywhere else in the world. One ‘highlight’ was doubtless the prolonged detainment of one of our employees at an airport in India. At one point it seemed like the police might become involved. With no prospects of cushy treatment. There was a similar case in the United States as well. Two of our staff travelled with the products and presented the papers on arrival. But the border control agent was convinced that only a forwarder is authorised to handle imports. Several calls were necessary before the matter was finally clarified. There was no mobile reception at the airport. So one of our employees was allowed to leave the restricted area to use the phone, while the other was required to remain with the agent, who bade farewell to our colleague with the ‘disarming’ quip: “Do not forget, I have a weapon and I am willing to use it.” But we survived all the import rigmarole, and the situations were resolved fairly quickly, such that our customers were able to receive their products without any prolonged wait.

Colleagues who enjoy playing hopscotch through the stores are advised to visit the United States and experience the pleasures of (ultimately successful) ‘speed shopping’ – for business purposes, of course. Our colleagues’ luggage failed to arrive at the Automotive Testing Expo two years in a row. That included the kit for the show itself. So they had no choice but to buy new outfits and locate the necessary utensils as well. Two of our colleagues managed the feat in under two hours the first year. The year after they made it in one. It remains to be seen whether they will set a new speed shopping record the next time round.

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