GACC South Consulting Client Wendt & Kühn Turns 100!

Written by Amy Merrill

Founded in October 1915, Grünhainichen-based manufacturer and long-time GACC South Consulting client Wendt & Kühn is celebrating a full century in business this year. Yes, 2015 is definitely the Year of the Angel – the Grünhainchen Angel with its distinctive green wings and eleven dots, that is. We know you will join us in wishing our friends in the beautiful Erzgebirge region of Germany a very good year, with many more to come.WK01
And it has been an eventful century to say the least. The 25th anniversary year, 1940, occurred in the shadow of World War II, during which Wendt & Kühn stayed in business and out of direct participation in the war by creating model ships. During the era of nationalization, the company was renamed “VEB Werk-Kunst” but was returned to the Wendt family in July 1990. Since then, Wendt & Kühn has focused on growing and reestablishing the company.


More recently, Wendt & Kühn’s figurines appeared in the 2013 Hollywood movie Saving Mr. Banks starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers, the beloved author of the Mary Poppins children’s books. What is the secret to success for Wendt & Kühn? Now in the third generation of the Wendt family, the company maintains its focus on tradition, craftsmanship and quality. The designs were originally created by Grete Wendt, who founded the company with her classmate at the Royal Saxon School of Art in Dresden, Grete Kühn, and are still being used today to produce the famous, handcrafted and -painted figurines.
WK03To celebrate the big occasion, Wendt & Kühn has planned numerous events and anniversary product promotions. Many of the events will take place in the company’s “birthplace” and home town of Grünhainichen. October will naturally mark the highlight of the year’s events, which feature the opening of a new interactive world of figurines and a grand jubilee celebration in Dresden. Retailers, friends and long-time collectors of the brand from all around the globe will join Wendt & Kühn to take part in the festivities.

The “Anniversary Edition” pieces were first unveiled in the U.S. in the early weeks of January at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishing Market. Retailers were granted an early glimpse of the centennial year’s new releases, which included a specially designed Anniversary Angel, a grand 72-tone music box and limited edition pieces highlighting Wendt & Kühn’s history and achievements. Wendt & Kühn also brought back the very first designs created by Grete Wendt in 1913: the award-winning 3 Berry Pickers.WK04

The partnership between the GACC South and Wendt & Kühn has not quite reached a century, but at 12 years is still quite an achievement. The GACC Consulting department and Business Representation Team has assisted the company in expanding their U.S. business by attending trade shows, processing orders, facilitating customer relationships and administrative support. The GACC South has been honored to share in even a small part of Wendt & Kühn’s success story. Congratulations!

South Carolina Automotive Summit 2015

Written by Anne Sophie Suhr

From February 23 to 25, 2015 the 4th Annual South Carolina Automotive Summit took place in Greenville, SC. The event provided a variety of talks, panels and presentations designed to stimulate discussion of contemporary automotive sector topics ranging from manufacturing, design, engineering, and R&D to technical education and training.

The Automotive Summit attracted hundreds of local and national industry professionals, making it an ideal opportunity to network and exchange ideas. The state of South Carolina, as well as the entire southeastern region, is home to numerous German automotive companies. Therefore it was no surprise that the GACC South and its members were also well represented at the Summit.

The first industry panel discussion on innovation at CU-ICAR

The first industry panel discussion on innovation at CU-ICAR

The focus of the first day was innovation. Following a dynamic opening panel featuring industry leaders such as Mike Mansuetti of Robert Bosch and Frank Gabbianelli of Magna, CU-ICAR faculty and students presented current research projects. Summit participants caught a glimpse of possible futures for the automotive sector in the form of voice- and motion-controlled vehicles, self-healing polymers, and predictive cruise control triggered by traffic lights.

Day Two kicked off with economic industry outlooks for both South Carolina and the U.S. as a whole. Dr. Susan Helper of the U.S. Department of Commerce stressed the potentials and dangers of ‘spillover effects’ in the supply chain and the importance of creating shared assets.

A highlight for many Summit attendees, Mr. Ratan Tata of the Indian manufacturer Tata Motors, known for its Nano

Ratan Tata receiving his honorary degree from Clemson University

Ratan Tata receiving his honorary degree from Clemson University

vehicle, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson University. Mr. Tata’s engaging yet humble personality won over the audience. It was truly inspiring to hear about his life path and the growth of Tata Motors, in which he played a key role by “doing what one thought couldn’t be done”.

The day continued with a discussion of a topic that has become particulary relevant in the South: the need for increased education and training to counteract the current deficit in skilled labor. BMW’s Sky Foster led a workforce development best practice panel, offering many practical insights and ideas into the current labor situation – an ongoing concern for so many industry players.

To cap the day, Greenville-based company ProTerra introduced its answer to the challenges of sustainable urban mobility: zero-emission, electric city buses. CEO Ryan Popple, who previously worked for Tesla Motors, outlined the company’s promising business model as a growing, vertically integrated organization. One of their light weight electric buses leaves the manufacturing facility every 10 days, heading to destinations all over the U.S.

Summit Participants could experience a ride on one of ProTerra’s zero-emission city buses

Summit Participants could experience a ride on one of ProTerra’s zero-emission city buses

The Summit finished strong on Wednesday with a program featuring a presentation on future industry outlooks and trends by KPMG’s Automotive Sector Leader, Gary Silberg. Just a few of the many interesting trends brought up were the development toward mass customization of vehicles, the consumer movement of mobility on demand and the potential impact on vehicle production volumes.

Overall the 2015 Summit proved to be a fascinating and enlightening event for anyone with an interest in the current state of the Southern Automotive Industry.

New Director Sets Ambitious Goals for GACC South Tennessee Chapter

Written by Nicole Prybula


In January 2015, the GACC South announced the new Tennessee Chapter Director, Heiko Juerges, President & CEO, H&D Corporation. With extensive experience in German-American business relations and a contagious enthusiasm for the Tennessee region, Heiko is keen on presenting a united and active chamber for the state’s business community.

Heiko always dreamed of living in the U.S., and through determination, dedication and patience, he made that dream a reality.
Heiko is a ‘German Yankee’, who grew up hearing thrilling stories of his Grandmother’s experience living in the U.S., triggering his strong desire to also live here one day. After spending eight years in the German Military, where Heiko embodied strong leadership skills, he moved to New York City to pursue his dream and start his own web design company, E.U.R.O.S.A. Technologies, Inc. Following the downfall of the U.S. economy at the beginning of the century, Heiko returned to Germany, but left with a plan to come back soon.
Back in Germany, he joined H&D International GmbH. Although the company did not have any expansions outside of Germany at the time, through hard work and perseverance, Heiko quickly moved his way to the top to expand H&D International GmbH to the U.S.
Since 2010, Heiko has served as President & CEO of H&D Corporation in Chattanooga, TN, expanding U.S. operations in the past five years from only two to 130 employees.

Tennessee; the ‘Silicon Valley’ of the Southeast
After living in Tennessee for five years, Heiko has developed an evident passion for the region and the many opportunities it brings.
Through its innovative, reliable and affordable networks, Tennessee has become a hub for high-tech companies in the South, with Chattanooga often dubbed the next Silicon Valley. In addition, through offering strong support programs and beneficial incentives for entrepreneurs, the state has quickly become an attractive region for startup companies.
With a positive economic outlook for 2015 and nearly 800 foreign subsidiaries representing 34 countries throughout the state – about 100 of which are German companies – Tennessee boasts a growing international business community. Now more than ever, the Tennessee Chapter of the GACC South can provide vital support and connections for the German-American business community in the region.

2015 Goals for the Tennessee Chapter
The new Director, Heiko, looks forward to invigorating the Tennessee Chapter with a united leadership committee and an active presence across the region.
By working with multiple partners, including the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, both Heiko and the leadership committee hope to drastically increase the footprint of German companies in Tennessee. Moreover, through focusing Chapter activities on business and economy, the Chapter is eager to become the ‘go-to’ source for German companies interested in entering the growing Tennessee market.
In 2015, the Chapter will bring various informative and valuable business seminars, factory tours and networking events to the region. Sign up for the chapter newsletter here to stay updated and make sure you do not miss any of the upcoming activities.

The GACC South Welcomes 2015

Written by Nicole Prybula

The GACC South kicked off 2015 with four New Year’s Receptions in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chattanooga, and Houston.

New Year’s Reception Charlotte, NC
Friday, January 9th, 2015

The tradition continued, as members and friends of the GACC South North Carolina Chapter gathered at the private residency of Mike & Sabine Birkle to honor the start of a great new year.

The Reception began with welcoming remarks from Chapter Director, Dr. Christian Kissinger, who highlighted a few of the regional accomplishments achieved during the past year. The chapter hosted 16 networking events with over 1,000 attendees in North Carolina, and grew their membership base with 33 new companies. Kissinger furthermore gave an outlook of 2015, highlighting some of the new event formats and expansions to new areas like Ashville, NC, that members and friends of the GACC South can be excited about.

65 guests attended the event and enjoyed the evening with light hors d’oeuvres and wine. Many new faces fostered new connections and partnerships amongst attendees.

Special guests included Klaus Becker, Honorary Consul of Germany in Charlotte, Dr. Christian Kissinger, NC Chapter Director and General Manager of SAERTEX USA, LLC and Stefanie Jehlitschka, Vice President of the GACC South.

New Year’s Reception Chattanooga, TN
Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

The Tennessee Chapter of the GACC South not only welcomed in the new year, but also the new Tennessee Chapter Director at their first New Year’s Reception.

More than 60 guests were welcomed at the Miller & Martin office to celebrate the beginning of 2015 and the inauguration of the new Chapter Director, Heiko Juerges, President & CEO of H&D Corporation.


The evening provided a great networking platform for businesses and individuals interested in developing connections within the growing partnership between Tennessee and Germany.

President & CEO of the GACC South, Martina Stellmaszek, as well as German Consul General, Christoph Sander and Honorary German Consul General to Tennessee, Doug Berry, each provided opening remarks addressing the expanding German presence in Tennessee. Today, with 104 German companies present in Tennessee, the importance of strengthening our network within this valuable region is becoming increasingly prevalent.

In 2015, the Tennessee Chapter of the GACC South looks forward to bringing multiple events to the German-American business community in the State. Sign up for the chapter newsletter here to stay updated on upcoming events in the region.

Thank you to Miller & Martin PLLC for sponsoring the event!

The picture gallery of the New Year’s Reception in Chattanooga can be found here.

New Year’s Reception Houston, TX
Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

The GACC South Houston Office hosted its New Year’s Reception on January 20th at the fabulous Hotel ZaZa with a 03beautiful view of Hermann Park. The evening successfully brought together old and new friends of the German business community to network over drinks and hors d’oeuvres while the cello and piano duo filled the room with classical tunes.

The highlight of the reception was the Silent Auction, featuring a variety of items donated from our generous community, including a German soccer Jersey autographed by the World Cup champions. This year, we were able to raise $800 through our Silent Auction in order to help support the students of John H. Reagan High School as they embark on an education exchange program founded by the Houston- Leipzig Sister City Association.

04With over 60 guests, the elegant evening was an excellent start to the New Year for the German business community in Texas. Thank you to Commerzbank for sponsoring this event and for all of those who made a generous donation to our Silent Auction!
The picture gallery of the New Year’s Reception in Houston can be found here.

New Year’s Reception Atlanta, GA
Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

With not a snowflake in sight, this year’s New Year’s Reception at the GACC South Atlanta office welcomed a full house of more than 270 members and friends to ring in the New Year with a memorable evening of networking and celebrations.02

03 (2)Guests mixed and mingled past closing time; toasting to the start of a prosperous New Year and enjoying the delicious German buffet, featuring Fleischsalat, Potato Pancakes and Schnitzel. Specialty cocktails provided by SIXT Rent a Car, beer sponsored by Krombacher, and the famed Margarita Machine sponsored by MVI Proplant Inc. and Star Publishing USA, Inc. created a lively and exciting atmosphere for attendees.

The Reception began with welcoming remarks from GACC South President & CEO, Martina Stellmaszek, who highlighted a few of the GACC South’s accomplishments achieved during the past year and honored all membership anniversaries (a total of 19 anniversaries). Following a warm welcome, German Consul General, Christoph Sander, shared inspiring words with attendees, emphasizing the strength of the German-American partnership for both now and in the future.01

Thank you to Automotive Management Partners and SIXT Rent a Car for sponsoring the event and to all of our friends and members who joined us for a successful start to 2015!

The picture gallery of the New Year’s Reception in Atlanta can be found here.

German Automotive Delegation Visits the Southeast

Written by Sonja Sobota

From November 10 to 14 2014, a German Automotive Delegation consisting of 12 small and medium sized Automotive supplier companies visited the famous Automotive Corridor of the United States. The GACC Midwest (Chicago and Detroit offices) and the GACC South in Atlanta organized the journey, which was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The goal of the delegation was to learn more about the Automotive market in the U.S., with a focus on Research & Development, innovative processes and production techniques, as well as to establish first contacts with potential clients and business partners.


After spending a few days in the “Motor City” Detroit, where the participants had the chance to present their products to various industry representatives, the Automotive Delegation arrived in Greenville, South Carolina. During an event held at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) on November 13, our President & CEO, Martina Stellmaszek, and the Consul General of Germany, Christoph Sander, welcomed the group.

The delegation participants also introduced themselves and their products to an audience of automotive companies, service providers and industry experts. From spoilers and bumpers to devices and technologies used in production, various products were represented. Some speakers were even were able to show product samples during the event.


Thanks to a presentation by Dr. David L. Bodde, Professor & Senior Fellow at CU-ICAR, the audience also had the chance to learn about “The New Role of the Southeast in Automotive Research, Engineering and Manufacturing”.

Matt Winkler, Senior Manager of Purchasing Direct Materials at DAA Draexlmaier Automotive of America LLC compared the similar—yet different—European and American automotive industries. The day in Greenville concluded with individual business appointments in the area.

The delegation also traveled to the Volkswagen (VW) plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. During an individual tour, the participants learned about the plant’s history and its unique features, such as their 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After the tour, the delegation participants became familiar with VW’s supplier selection process during a question and answer session with the plant’s management.

Now that all companies have returned to Germany, we have received positive feedback about successful business connections they made.

Christmas at the GACC South

Written by Nicole Prybula

‘Twas the 5th of December, when all through the office,
The GACC South team was dressed in Christmas costumes, everybody looked flawless!

The staff replaced pantsuits to show off their Christmas cheer,
In hopes that the costume contest victory soon would be theirs.

The staff remained hard at work,
making sure to remain in their zones,
While bells and bows danced on top of heads, as they talked to clients on the phones.

PR dressed up as an elf, and I as Cindy Lou Who
from the Grinch,
BR was wrapped as a present, who knew making these costumes
would be such a cinch?

When it became time to judge the costumes,
there arose such a chatter,
Too many great outfits to choose from, it was quite the matter.

Two dressed up as a Tree, the tacky Christmas
sweaters made a jingle,
One Baker, One “Atlanta Snow Storm”, so much Christmas spirit in this office mingle!

Most Traditional, Most Creative and Funniest could be won,
But who would it be? Good thing we could choose more than one!

The winners received awards to be shown off and framed,
We listened to Christmas carols and ate cake,
Someone had two pieces…. though thou shall not be named.

Now the Christmas spirit is high, we are all full of glee,
So a message to thee, on behalf of the GACC:

To our members, to our friends, we say to you with great cheer,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a happy New Year!



We would like to thank Kuehne + Nagel, Inc. for sponsoring our Christmas tree again this year!

It looks wonderful.

First Climate Symposium held in Houston & Tulsa

Written by Lea Steinlein

The 1st Climate Symposium held on November 12 and 13 in Houston, TX and Tulsa, OK respectively, brought an international panel of experts together to showcase innovations and new developments with positive impact on both innovative mining and the environment. Organized by the GACC South, and supported by the Climate Fond of the Federal Foreign Office in Germany, the symposium analyzed pertinent environmental considerations and promoted Germany’s expertise in Clean Technologies. Each speaker addressed topics in the oil & gas lifecycle ranging from environmental regulations, exploration technologies, water treatment, to future gas resources. Participants from Chevron, Benteler Steel & Pipes Corporation, and several universities added their voice to the discussion and made for a stimulating and informative exchange between theory and application.

Climate Symposium, Houston, TX_Blog1

Moderator and speaker Dr. John P. Martin from JPMartin Energy Strategy LLC brought decades of experience as consultant in the energy sector to the symposium. Giving an overview of environmental impacts, he pointed out that “in the 1st step of a project, planners are insensitive towards local population, and this leads to conflicts later.”

The research experts had plenty to present. Dr. Catalin Teodoriu joined us from TU Clausthal’s research center “Energie Forschungszentrum Niedersachsen“ (EFZN) in Germany. He introduced and discussed several innovative technologies Climate Symposium, Houston, TX  Blog2to improve well integrity. Dr. Sezin Kadioglu from the University of Oklahoma pointed out five different techniques to reduce heavy metal contamination in ground water. In conjunction, Dr. David Burnett from Texas A&M University and Environmentally Friendly Drilling (EFD) introduced their mobile water treatment unit, a truck with research equipment to test and treat operational waste water. “If you can measure it, you can change it”, explained Dr. Burnett, and indicated that transparency of operations will contribute to a realistic view on the effects.

But what about overall CO2 reduction? To answer this question, Yucel Akkutlu from Texas A&M University presented a Climate Symposium, Houston, TX Blog3method that uses CO2 to enhance natural gas recovery, and at the same time stores it in innovative reservoirs. Additionally, the US Environmental Protection Agency tackles the reduction of the carbon footprint with the new Green Completion regulation. Tom Haywood from Energy Intelligence introduced the concept, and also pointed out the
importance of events such as the Climate Symposium: “In the oil and gas industry, each experiment can have significant side effects, so technology transfer from university to industry takes as long as 15 years.”

We are proud that this year’s Climate Symposium accelerated the exchange of cutting edge technologies, and established relationships between top-notch research, industry professionals, and future decision makers in the oil and gas sector. If you missed this year’s event you can access the presentations on request (Contact us directly for access). We hope to see you at our next Climate Symposium in 2015!

Click here to access the presentations from the Tulsa event.

Click here to access the presentations from the Houston event.