The GACC South Welcomes the New Members

Written by Laura Lovinger & Christiane Rudyk

On July 23rd, 2015, we at the GACC South hosted a record number of attendees at our office in Atlanta for the annual New Member Reception. Enjoying delicious Apfelstrudel & other delicacies, we welcomed the new members who have joined our organization during the last year. Additionally, our new colleague, Laura Lovinger (Membership & Events Coordinator of the Carolinas), traveled to North and South Carolina to welcome our new members in these states.

The New Member Reception at the GACC South Atlanta Office gathered a record number of 216 attendees and was generously sponsored by Paramount Transportation Systems, Inc. Also sponsored by Paramount was a raffle for a new Apple Watch, seen with the happy winner below.

gacc_nmr_2015_274The reception united representatives from across the entire Southern region, from Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia, to even a special visitor, Detlev Rünger, the new Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Atlanta, GA. He was one of the speakers at the event as well as Michaela Schobert, Director of Consulting Services. She awarded a special certificate to Peter Halpaus, in recognition for many years of devoted work for the GACC South. The Board of Directors has elected Peter Halpaus as an Honorary Lifetime member of the Board.

gacc_nmr_2015_145The great food & German beer were not the only highlights of the event, the margarita machine was definitely one of the main attractions and the eye catcher of the night. A special thank you to MVI Proplant, Inc. and Star Publishing USA, Inc./Star Cooperation for providing this special treat.

Find more pictures from the event here.

North and South Carolina

Laura Lovinger recently began the position as Membership & Events Coordinator of the Carolinas on June 15th. In the last few weeks, she had the opportunity to travel to North and South Carolina to introduce herself to our members, old and new alike!

North Carolina: 40 meet at the The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte.

The North Carolina New Member Reception took place at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte on July 16th, 2015. At the event, North Carolina Chapter Director, Dr. Christian Kissinger, welcomed members & guests to the event and organization before Laura briefly spoke on her excitement for the new role. Afterwards, traditional foods such as Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, and Kartoffelsalat were served at this local German-style brewery.

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Find more pictures of the North Carolina New Member Reception here.

South Carolina: 45 meet at the BMW Zentrum in Greer

The South Carolina New Member Reception took place at the BMW Zentrum in Greer on July 30th, 2015. At the event, South Carolina Chapter Director, Vince Pearson, provided welcoming remarks before Laura briefly introduced herself to new members and guests. Surrounded by a variety of cars produced by the Bavarian auto manufacturer, Bratwurst sliders, Kartoffelknoedel, Gurkensalat, and rum raisin Dutch pancakes were served as refreshments.


Find more pictures of the South Carolina New Member Reception here.

The GACC South Company Outing Gives to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter

Written by Nicole Prybula

Once a year, Houston and Atlanta colleagues unite for the GACC South company outing to enjoy each other’s company outside our traditional work environment. This year, the GACC South staff embraced their inner childhood for a day of puzzles, riddles and challenges to earn toys for the Atlanta Children’s Shelter.

Starting off with a traditional German breakfast in the board room, Nutella and Fleischsalat charged everyone’s brains to prepare for a day full of activities. Each department utilized this time together to share updates on the outlook and planned programs for the rest of the year.

Following breakfast the Porsche Board Room transformed into ‘Arts & Crafts’ time, as everyone decorated their own “Jutebeutel”. From flowers to college mascots, everyone’s innovative creativity showed through the cut out potatoes and fabric paint.

Fueled with energy and excitement, the group then packed a large cooler and headed to Piedmont Park to enjoy the rest of the beautiful, sunny day outdoors.

The GACC South teamed up with Atlanta Challenge LLC to complete a scavenger hunt around Piedmont Park that included photo challenges, brain teasers, code deciphering and even some rapping.

Split up into teams of 6, each team utilized each other’s strengths and appreciated each other’s differences to combine brain power and complete each task within the allotted amount of time.

In the end, every team was a winner as each team used their earned points to choose selected toys to be donated to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. We are overjoyed to contribute to such an admirable organization and to provide joy to homeless children across Atlanta.

Lessons of the Day:

  • When we share tasks, we can work more efficiently
  • How to multitask (walk, navigate, solve a puzzle, search for clues & snap a picture at the same time)
  • A few of the GACC South colleagues have some mad rapper skills
  • How to fit 6+ people in one selfie shot

Thank you to our colleagues, Katja, Katrin & Konstantin for their great planning of this year’s company outing!

GACC South Consulting Paints the Town Red… and White and Blue and Black

Written by Amy Merrill

Recently the GACC South’s Consulting Team had the chance to discover their inner Picassos. Each quarter, we abandon our desks and phones after hours in order to relax and take part in a little non-work-related team building. For the most recent outing, the Team gathered at the studio of local Atlanta business Dip’n Dab to spend an evening of creative fun with paint and canvas.

With helpful hints from our Dip’n Dab instructor, we created our masterpieces based on the example artwork selected for the evening. Inspiration struck and our ten artists-in-residence made the canvases their own, expressing their individual taste and style in a palette of white, red, blue and black. Each turned out as unique as their creators, but I think they all revealed the hidden talents of our consulting staff. As I am sure you will agree.


From the semi-post-modern “Flamingo De-constructed” to the romantic expressionism of “The Lovebirds” (both humans and actual birds) to the unintentionally abstract “Squird,” the paintings displayed a remarkable range of creativity, as well as a preference for thinking outside the box – or canvas, as the case may be.

Did I mention that the title of the example piece was “Girl with Balloons”?

Who knew the GACC South harbored so much artistic potential in its midst? In the end, and most importantly, the experience was a great chance to both indulge our painterly muses and have fun as a team outside the office. Another successful outing accomplished – and we all got to take home a lovely work of art to show for it.


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.