An update on Jim's international industry academic research tour

 

Seven academic conferences (plus an additional conference as an advisor for our SMWC leadership club) in three weeks was an exhilarating but exhausting trek involving plenty of content-rich activities but also much waiting for and waiting on trams, trains, shuttles, buses, and planes, which was not fun but necessary.  I was able to visit at least one successful multinational production facility in each city and gained valuable insight to be utilized in future research.  The trip went like this:

-

Nashville→Iceland→Netherlands→Greece→Romania→Italy→Austria→Portugal

-

The trip reinforced much of what I enjoy about globalization.  Just like each person has his own personality, each conference and each society has its own distinct personality.  While globalization is making us more similar and homogenized, stark differences in these cultures should still be recognized and if nothing else, respected as we increasingly work together across societies and become interconnected in ways that were unimaginable decades ago.

Specifically, with international industrial management becoming more commonplace in our globalized marketplace (such as Ford’s operations in Craiova or Ossur’s facility in Iceland), a one-size fits all nature of managing and leading becomes an antiquated strategy.  Adaptation, constant change and improvement, and a respect for the culture of the employee, the global consumer, and the vast array of company stakeholders must be carefully considered as decisions and long-term strategies are planned.  With the added external challenges of government regulations, currency fluctuations, economic change, etc., global industrial management faces as many challenges as opportunities ahead.

Just because the trip is over doesn’t mean that the output will cease.  I will be reporting back to the TH Human Relations commission, presenting flags from Vienna and Rotterdam to the Downtown TH Rotary club, and providing Masonic education at our next lodge meeting.  This will be in addition to utilizing various bits and pieces of information for subsequent research and publishings.  This works out nicely because after utilizing much of the past several years dedicated to writing and research for these conferences, there are no bullets left in the chamber and the cupboard is bare.  Perhaps most importantly, information and experiences gathered during the trip will be utilized in classes.

In addition, this trip has allowed for further contributions to the SMWC General Studies revision process of which I am a committee member.  The General Studies vision statement states the college’s support for “the development of leaders who acknowledge the importance of diversity, social justice, environmentalism and global awareness” and I would be proud to enhance and further integrate the concepts learned on this trip into the new liberal arts course requirements.

Knowledge from several disciplines was enhanced based on the interactions at the conferences along with the experiential learning.  The site tours and outreach with organizations allowed for much anecdotal insight.  Disciplines enhanced include:

  • Supply Chain Management
  • Micro/MacroEconomics
  • Organizational Change
  • International Management
  • Quality Production
  • Global Marketing
  • Industrial Management
  • Organizational Leadership

I hope that I contributed to the greater good at every conference attended.  There were numerous conference stalwarts who had been consistently involved in that particular conference for many years and had devoted much of their academic pursuits toward their involvement in that conference.  These were the attendees that took part in every aspect of the conference from formal activities to social events, and I hope that I could provide as much value-added as possible to add to their experience.  I must have exchanged business cards with over 100 colleagues.  With so much traveling and scheduling commitments, there wasn’t as much opportunity to fully engage in every conference in an ideal fashion.  However, the insight gained from colleagues was extremely valuable. It would have been fun to accumulate tote bags, pens, and pads of paper with conference logos from each conference, but this would have added too much weight to the luggage.

Things happened very quickly and I wish I could take pictures of everything that passed or occurred, but sometimes the phone was dead, other times it would have been inappropriate, and other times things happened too fast.  It’s would have been fun to put together a collage of the all the local establishments but that’s just not cool.  Those unassuming experiences represented the heart of the trip as they represented a true reflection of the local culture, whereas no one was on their guard and whereas I was nobody that paid a conference fee to be treated as a guest.  I wish I could record the in-depth, heartfelt conversations with everybody I ran across.  These experiences were extremely fulfilling.

An appropriate bookend to this last academic conference was the World Cup final match between Germany and Argentina.  I don’t consider myself a soccer fan but more of a cultural enthusiast.  It was fascinating to watch fans cheer for their favorite teams during the World Cup.  You could tell much about the immigration patterns and cultural backgrounds by the numbers of fans for or against the different teams which were playing.  Appropriately, I returned just in time to watch the Major League All-Star game.

Some cultural takeaways:

  • Don’t discount coins in Europe.  The least common denomination is the 10₵, which is worth about 14₵ to us. They do have copper-looking 5₵ coins but the prices for items are generally are rounded up to the nearest 10₵, and since tax is already included, you don’t end up with lots of small change in your pocket.  They distribute coins in € 1 and € 2, and oftentimes we Americans dismiss the value of pocket change, but over here it adds up.  The € 2 coin is worth about $2.40.  We Americans should do away with the penny and nickel to achieve similar efficiencies.
  • Don’t wear white socks.  Beyond lugging around the big suitcase, white socks give away that we are Americans more than anything else.  Short black socks are worn with sneakers in Europe…above all else, don’t wear white shoes.  It will send a signal to all that you are an American.  I have learned to blend in and have been able to mix with the culture far enough so that they aren’t aware of me being an American until I speak.
  • If you are someone who gets hot easily, Europe will be challenging during the summer.  There are not too many places with air conditioning, and the air conditioning is not turned on high.  Air conditioning is still a luxury and not an automatic convenience over in Europe.  Also, it seems like everybody smokes.  There are some indoor smoking bans at more of the progressive European nations, but even then, smokers fill the roads and entranceways to establishments.  Expect smoke in the air everywhere.
  • People dress in more formal attire, even when traveling.  They tend to see Americans as acting and dressing in a very casual manner.  If you want to blend it, dress in a more formal fashion.
  • The roaming fees tend to add up so keeping a cell phone on at all times is prohibitive.  Using the roaming for various providers would have taken up all of the maximum MB allowed for the monthly international travel packages allowed from AT&T.  I was only able to use the roaming for about 5 minutes every 2 or 3 hours in order to allow texts and especially emails to go through.  Using the google maps tended to also take up valuable MB, so I brought an old fashioned compass and just walked in a certain direction for 30 minutes in some instances and then checked where I was at later on.
  • People think Americans have money and are potentially gullible.  We don’t speak any other languages, whereas Europeans speak multiple languages.  Beware of those that want to hustle and take advantage of us.
  • Work ethic varies from culture to culture.  Depending on unemployment, job security, importance of time, importance of gratuity, and other factors, don’t expect servers and other people to bow down to your every wish.  They usually work on their own clock.
  • Learn a few key words in the local language as a show of respect to the other culture.  “Excuse me”, “sir”, “madam”, “please”, “thank you”, “sorry”, etc. are good ways of connecting in the all-important initial stages of a conversation.  Most of the time, they will recognize that you are an American and will speak English but appreciate you initial consideration and respect.  There is a great app. called iTranslate that works very well and even pronounces the words for you.

Conclusion:

Manufacturing loss has been especially detrimental to the economies of traditional blue-collar areas such as mid-size Hoosier towns including Kokomo, Terre Haute, and Anderson.  Unemployment rates in these areas are much higher than the state averages, as brain-drains have shifted many in the workforce to hotbeds of service-sector employment where more opportunity exists such as in Indianapolis or Chicago.   Indiana is the #1 manufacturing state in terms of employment (Manufacturers News, August 2006), and Indiana’s mid-size towns have the biggest at stake when it comes to winning and losing because manufacturing is a hefty chunk of those economies.

The abandoned factories and lost industrial jobs have been partially replaced by manufacturing employment from European-based multinationals which have decided to set up facilities in America.  Parent companies from Europe account for 65% of Indiana’s jobs whose parent company is based internationally (majority-owned U.S. affiliate employment), followed by Asia/Pacific countries (24%) and Canada (6%).   It was extremely valuable to obtain firsthand insights as to what factors allow European industrialists to be domestically successful in today’s increasingly competitive global market.  Each culture and each industrial facility had its own distinct competitive advantages and these factors ultimately lead these companies not only export but also to expand their operations internationally.  Immersing yourself in the culture allows for the gaining of societal subtleties and this applies to production as well.  Organizational culture cannot simply be obtained by examining EU policies and regulations such as local content requirements and this experiential learning will be valuable as it’s utilized for future research.

Lastly, I am very grateful to my loving wife for holding down the fort during this “work” trip.

 Portugal

At the Azores Islands (850 miles West of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean), presenting my research paper “Post-Cold War State Industrialization as a Means of Economic Growth in East Asia versus Eastern Europe” at the The European Scientific Institute’s 2nd Annual International Interdisciplinary Conference.


Fact about the paper:  The paper assesses the amount of overall economic advancement attributed to the manufacturing sector since the end of the Cold War, finding that East Asian countries had a higher percentage of their economic progress associated with industry than the countries of Eastern Europe with 26.13% total value-added from manufacturing versus 18.12% for Eastern Europe.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 11.8%, 7th out of 7- least industry-intensive (OECD stats) Country’s most Important Industries: paper, wood and cork, embroidery, and agriculture.

WWII fact:  The islands have been called the crossroads of the Atlantic due to their strategic geography for shipping bases.  While the Portuguese proclaimed neutrality during the war, after becoming wary that German u-boats might overtake the island in 1941, they allowed the British to set up when Winston Churchill found a loophole, which was the 1373 Treaty of Peace which allowed British Basing Rights.

aai

The conference was held on the University of Azores campus, the only public institution of higher learning on the Islands.  It’s amazing how different the conference venues were on this trip.  It was a stark departure from the University of Vienna’s modern, sleek feel.

Entrance to the University of Azores campus.

Entrance to the University of Azores campus.

seal

My presentation.

My presentation.

Tropical, Spanish-esque campus.

Tropical, Spanish styled campus.

Tropical, Spanish styled campus.

Tropical, Spanish styled campus.

Their international center, the host area for guests.

The University of Azores International Center, the host area for guests.

At the center of the University of Azores campus.

At the center of the University of Azores campus.

-

Each conference puts on its own distinct social activities.  The extra time and effort in organizing an academic conference becomes more apparent as the social events unfold.  While the official conference activities allow for much scholarly pursuit, the add-on activities truly give heart to the proceedings and allow for deeper connections with the participants.

The conference held a celebratory Gala at a local Azores restaurant specializing in traditional Azores cuisine, established in 1954.  The dancers represent traditional Azores dance style.

The conference held a celebratory Gala at a local Azores restaurant specializing in traditional Azores cuisine, established in 1954.

The dancers represent traditional Azores Islands dance style.

The dancers represent traditional Azores Islands dance style.

The characters represented at the conference Gala include the dark, crypt-looking character.  This was utilized by women when pirates attacked the island in past centuries to disguise them from the invaders.

A character represented at the conference Gala include the dark, crypt-looking character. This costume was utilized by women when pirates attacked the island in past centuries to disguise them from the invaders.

The Azores Islands have faced economic setbacks in the past decades.  Like many other economically challenged pockets of Europe, they’ve seen emigration and brain-drain.  It’s said that every Azores citizen has some family who have moved out of the area.  A common destination for Azores emigrants has been Boston.  This phenomenon has been similar to challenges faced in other areas of the trip including Athens and Romania.  You can’t blame those that want to maximize their potential for good-paying jobs elsewhere.

Traditional Azores guitar.  The two hearts represent 1) Those citizens that have left the islands for other areas of the world and 2) Those that have stayed on the island.

Traditional Azores guitar. The two hearts represent 1) Those citizens that have left the islands for other areas of the world and 2) Those that have stayed on the island.

friendThe Azores Islands have a unique military history.  They are in a strategic geographic location and have provided a base of operations for many military units over the years that were friendly to the Portuguese government.  After much local debate, the Allies were ultimately awarded access to the Islands in WWII, providing them a strategic aerial base for their operations.  The Islands have been a central strategic points for cargo missions and convoys during several different wars.  The United States has utilized the Azores in recent decades as a potential locale for NATO countries in case of evacuation.

Military museum.

Military museum.

A dolphins watching exhibition sponsored by the conference.

A dolphins watching exhibition sponsored by the conference.

The three flags are prominent in the community.  The flag on the left represents the Azores Islands, with 9 stars for each island.  The middle flag is the Portuguese flag, and the one on the right represents the European Union, of which Portugal is a full member.

These three flags are prominent in the community. The flag on the left represents the Azores Islands, with 9 stars representing each island. The middle flag is the Portuguese flag, and the one on the right represents the European Union, of which Portugal is a full member.

The Azores Islands are also known for their volcanoes.  The volcanoes cover 50 miles over the Islands.  The last eruption from a volcano was in 1630.  Much of the effects of the eruptions can still be seen today in the dark color of the rocks on the shores.  In fact, the lava’s high temperature magma sunk far into the ocean and provided deep wells, which allowed for “experimental installation of electricity generating turbine using the steam from the underground water.  The success of this lead to the construction of two geothermal plants, thereby reducing the island’s dependency on the consumption of fossil fuels”  (Azores Guide).

During the dolphin watching exhibition we were able to see the remote parts of the islands. The dark rocks are actually dried up lava which flowed down from the volcanoes on the islands.

During the dolphin watching exhibition we were able to see the remote parts of the islands. The dark rocks are actually old lava which flowed down from the volcanoes at the top of the islands.

The Azores Islands have developed some specialization in select industries.  One is a cultural lacework ironwork created for balconies and porches.  Another is ceramics, including the Lagoa factory, founded in 1862, which utilized clay found in the Santa Maria island and produced ceramic tiles and other ceramic artistry.  It was an interesting behind the scenes look at this successful multinational production operations.  The “louca da lago” (pottery) containing several surface decor patterns and styles is still made there.  No two pieces are exactly alike.  The production process involves much hand-crafted style involving the pottery-wheel shaping, drying, and hand painting.  The style is inspired by the local landscape.  Like other European production facilities, emphasis is on quality, branding, marketing, pride in craftsmanship, and uniqueness.

-

Another key industry is their tea operations.  The first tea plantation was established in 1870 when two Chinese gentlemen provided the first crops to be utilized for harvest.  Today, the Azores Islands are the only exporters of European tea.  The Cha Gorreana production facility was founded in 1883 and produces 50,000 kilograms of tea annually.  They export to all areas in Europe, starting as a Royal delicacy but now a drink enjoyed by all.  It takes 6 years to harvest the tea after it’s initially planted and lasts for 90 years of continuous harvesting from March to October if the appropriate pruning and weeding takes place.  Most importantly, it’s a sustainable, environmentally friendly crop with no chemicals or pesticides utilized.  They use traditional production technology that is good for the environment, including the generation of their own power through hydroelectric generators for their energy.  They make green tea and one of their most popular types of tea is the Orange Pekoe, a light tasting tea, which I sampled after touring their facility.

Successful multinational tea production operation in the Azores.

Successful multinational tea production operation in the Azores.

The rollers utilized for oxidation.

The rollers utilized for tea leaf oxidation.

Sustainable crops for 90 years.

Sustainable crops for 90 years.

leaves

-

I lucked out and was able to be present during the annual celebration of the Holy Spirit.  This included the Street lunch celebration and then the parade down the main avenue.  This is known locally as the “festa”.  Their faith in the Divine Holy Spirit in the Catholic faith, or the Divino Espirito Santo.

Free food and wine for the citizens to commemorate the occasion.

Free food and wine at lunch for the citizens to commemorate the occasion.

Traditional Azores parade scene.

Traditional Azores parade scene.

IMG_4075

During the1200’s, Queen Isabel, who after death was made a Saint by the Catholic church, donated her crown to help famine in Portugal. The statue in the background of the parade is a replica of her crown and represents her generosity.

-

An appropriate bookend to this last academic conference was the World Cup final match between Germany and Argentina.  I don’t consider myself a soccer fan but more of a cultural enthusiast.  It was fascinating to watch fans cheer for their favorite teams.  You could tell much about the immigration patterns and cultural backgrounds by the numbers of fans for or against the different teams which were playing.

You see quite a bit of soccer fields in parks and cities across Europe.  Unlike the baseball diamonds in the US that are rarely occupied, there are always kids playing on these fields.

You see quite a bit of soccer fields in parks and cities across Europe. Unlike the baseball diamonds in the US that are rarely occupied, there are always kids playing on these fields.

They have exclusive academic academies dedicated to soccer throughout Europe.  Children from all ages are enrolled in these programs and they learn like regular students but also have dedicated soccer coaches and travel all around to enhance their development of the sport.  Their high schools and Universities don’t have sports teams so the soccer academies/clubs basically replace school sports.  They are inundated with soccer at a young age and are often recruited very early on.

Azores soccer academy where students go to school.  Their "football" stadiums are for soccer.

Azores soccer academy where students go to school. Their “football” stadiums are for soccer.

information about the conference can be found here

6 of 7) Vienna, Austria

Austria

In Vienna, Austria, presenting “Gender Diversity in the Board Room: Organizational Trends by Region” at The Fourteenth International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, hosted by the Vienna University of Economics.


Fact about the presentation:  Norway has the most representation of women in their boardrooms.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 18.5%, 2nd out of 7 (OECD stats)

Country’s most Important Industries:  textiles and machinery

WWII fact: After WWI, Austria used the name “The Republic of German-Austria” to identify itself, until Germany outlawed it.  Germany eventually “annexed” Austria and took it for its own during the leadup to WWII.

I'll be presenting in the morning session.

I’ll be presenting in the morning session.

On to Vienna.  Vienna is the capital of Austria and is the cradle of classical music  The city center is skyscraper-free and very pedestrian-friendly city.  It has an unbelievable musical legacy which includes Mozart and Bethoven who made names for themselves there.  This is the second consecutive city I’ve traveled that call themselves a different name than the rest of the world.  The locals of Florence, Italy call (and spell) the city Firenze and the locals of Vienna call (and spell) the city Wien.  

Vienna feels very much like a progressive city.  Everything is more spread out like typical American cities.  The infrastructure is very modern and I didn’t see any potholes.  I bought a round-trip ticket from the airport to the central district of the city via their City Airport Train (CAT), which was very clean, comfortable, and fast.  It had televisions advertising some upcoming city events, and most importantly, it didn’t make stops in-between the destination.

The City Airport Train (CAT)

The City Airport Train (CAT)

The city had an efficient, clean subway system, trams, and buses.

The city had an efficient, clean subway system, trams, and buses.  You can drive over the tram rails (as seen in picture) with ease- not like Terre Haute.

The conference was at the Vienna University of Economics campus.  All of the buildings were constructed in the past 3 years.  While we in America suffer through decreased state budgets for higher education, Vienna is seeing massive amounts of increased investments from their government.

University of Vienna Economics- modern building.

Vienna University of Economics- modern building.

University of Vienna- modern building

Vienna University of Economics- modern building

University of Vienna- modern building.  They were designed by different architects (as you can tell).

Vienna University of Economics- modern building. They were designed by different architects (as you can tell).

As a mayor-appointed commissioner for the City of TH Human Relations commission, I was able to represent that group and will be reporting back to them at our next meeting.

As a mayor-appointed commissioner for the City of TH Human Relations commission, I was able to represent that group and will be reporting back to them at our next meeting.

City of Terre Haute Human Relations Commission

“Valuing Diversity and Promoting Harmony Among All People”
PURPOSE:
To lead Terre Haute in building an inclusive community by:

– Enforcing the Human Rights ordinance.
– Empowering the community to eliminate barriers to equality.
– Educating the public about rights and responsibilities regarding   discrimination
SERVICES:
The Human Relations Commission is staffed by an Executive Director and maintains an office at 1101 S. 13th St., Terre Haute.
If you are experiencing discrimination, you may want to gain more information about your rights. Commission staff is available to answer your questions in confidentiality and arrange a complaint intake, if you wish.
If you are an employer, landlord, realtor, educator, or anyone trying to eliminate discrimination issues and promote diversity in the community, the Commission staff can answer your questions and offer consulting or training.
Presenting at the conference.

Presenting at the conference.

These are the other presenters in our themed sessions discussing Gender diversity.

These are the other presenters in our themed sessions discussing Gender diversity.

The city of Vienna has done much to promote diversity and to integrate the new groups of citizens in to the fabric and culture of its city.

A session from a City of Vienna employee.  There was much insight gained from their diversity efforts, which will be in the report to the Human Relations Commission.

A conference session from a City of Vienna employee. There was much insight gained from their city’s diversity and integration efforts, which will be in the report to the Human Relations Commission.

The city's diversity administration is broken up in to the following departments.

The city’s diversity administration is broken up by the following departments:  1) Gender, 2) LGBT, 3) Age, and 4) Migration.  They have a workshop for new migrants in to their community.

Without a doubt, a key ingredient to attracting Viennese foreign investment has been through workforce education and through retraining efforts directed towards in-demand sectors, spearheaded by regional campuses and technical colleges.  Vienna has excellent technical colleges and programs designed to provide workforce training.  The City gov’t has taken the lead on many of these initiatives.  There is no such thing as a “skills gap” in Austria.  The technical training and specialized jobs have plenty of applicants.  The advanced manufacturing jobs available in their multinational factories have plenty of trained, qualified workers.  Factory executives from other areas in Europe know this, and are more apt to steer production operations to Vienna because they know that the jobs will get filled.  This cultural trait helps the overall economy.  The City government facilitates with this collaboration.

-

This is the Hofburg Palace, former residency of the rulers of the Habsburg dynasty and Austro-Hungrian Empire.  It's the current home of the Austrian Presient.  A fellow Freemason showed me their temple/lodge, which is located inside.

This is the Hofburg Palace, former residency of the rulers of the Habsburg dynasty and Austro-Hungrian Empire. It’s the current home of the Austrian President and is over 1,000 years old.

My guide, a fellow Freemason, showed me some hidden Masonic sites and some historical public sites around the central area of the city.

My guide, a fellow Freemason, showed me some hidden Masonic sites and some historical public sites around the central area of the city.

I was able to say hello via an official Letter of Introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana.

I was able to say hello via an official Letter of Introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana.

Well, well, well.  His Masonic Temple is hidden within a passage.

Well, well, well. His Masonic Temple is hidden within a passage of the Hofburg Palace.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

-

I was able to tour the Augarten Porcelain Manufactory.  It’s the second oldest porcelain factory in Europe and was originally chartered by Emperor Charles VI so the company could produce porcelain for the Royal Family.  They currently have 60 employees, including 15 painters and 15 production employees.  They actually closed down from 1864 due to the technological advancement of mass-producing porcelain and thus undercutting them in price, but were re-opened in 1924 with a new strategy for hand-crafted, artistic styles.  It takes 3 years of apprenticeship to become a full-fledged employee, but the company doesn’t hire an apprentice if a regular job won’t be available in the future.  This apprentice-model of learning technical skillsets is very common among the Germanic people.  The company doesn’t utilize lasers in their production, since the public wouldn’t accept the title of manufactory.  They didn’t allow for taking pictures of workers.

IMG_3786

IMG_3826

IMG_3807

IMG_3822

 Augarten Porcelain Manufactory

-

A nice change of pace involved attending a Metallica concert at their Krieau Rocks venue.  I met up with some lively kids from Slovakia on the way to the show and they were really cool and nice enough to allow me to hang out with them during the show.  The crowd looked pretty much the same as a crowd during an American Metallica concert.  It’s when they talked that the differences became apparent.  Austria has a cultural tendency to gravitate towards this genre of music, and it was a blast.  The venue’s acoustics were excellent but the ground was rocks rather than the grassy, picnic-y setting of most American venues.  The vendors were impossible to access as well.  Otherwise it was lots of fun.

Me with some guys who made the trip from Slovakia who I hung out with at the concert.

Met with some guys who made the trip from Slovakia who I hung out with at the concert.

IMG_3783

-

I was again able to attend a Rotary club meeting.  Their meetings during the summer take place at different cultural places in the area.  This one was at a local art studio.  The artists were unveiling a new art campaign, which was supported by Rotary.  You can access a pdf of the description here:  Floating Rock

An artist who hosted the Rotary meeting at his art studio showing us his new art campaign.

An artist who hosted the Rotary meeting at his art studio showing us his new art campaign.

The meeting lasted about 3 hours and we had a great time.

The meeting lasted about 3 hours and we had a great time.

My host Norbert, who previously worked in Silicon Valley.  He looks like a cross between WWE wrestler John Cena and local sportscaster Jason Pensky.

My host Norbert, who previously worked in Silicon Valley. He looks like a cross between WWE wrestler John Cena and local sportscaster Jason Pensky.

The traditional Rotarian exchanging of flags.

The traditional Rotarian exchanging of flags.

Lots of wine was drank and the artists passed out some renditions of art for us to keep as a souvenir.

Lots of wine was drank and the artists passed out some renditions of their art for us to keep as a souvenir.

Again, soccer (football) was a focus of the trip.  I expected the crowds for the Germany/Brazil “match” to be very pro-Germany, since Austrians speak German.  However, I soon found that many Austrians have a bit of a rivalry with Germany and don’t necessarily have the most warm feelings toward them.  There were actually more citizens that rooted against Germany than for Germany.  From what I understand, this is due to a history of feeling like the little brother to German dominance.  While many of the cultural variables are the same, Austria has often been overpowered by German might, whether it be economic or military power.  It was lots of fun to take part in these cultural festivities and the game was an absolute blowout- Germany won 7-1, which is the equivalent of an American football score of 64-3.

A venue where Brazil fans got together.  They were not in good spirits as the evening progressed.

A venue where Brazil fans got together. They were not in good spirits as the evening progressed.

The next night went in to penalty kicks and unfortunately the Dutch went down.

I stumbled upon a Latin American-themed Socialism restaurant, where many Argentinian fans gathered to root for their team against Holland.

I stumbled upon a Latin American-themed Socialism restaurant, where many Argentinian fans gathered to root for their team against Holland.

All around a very good conference.

All around a very good conference.

information about the conference can be found here

Italy

In Florence, Italy at the Business & Economics Society International conference, presenting my research paper titled “American Inward Foreign Direct Investment: Trends in global industrial origination”


Fact about the paper:   While many reports have noted trends toward decentralized manufacturing to underdeveloped areas in the past decades, there has been a lack of studies related to manufacturing dollars coming into America in the form of Inward Foreign Direct Investment.  This paper finds that even during the worldwide recession, between 2007 and 2010, American IFDI from Asia related to industry increased by a whopping 29%.  IFDI also increased originating from Europe during this time.  Shifts accelerated by the global recession point to an increase in dependence on manufacturing, especially the IFDI originating from Asia.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 16.3%  3rd out of 7 (OECD stats)

Country’s most Important Industries: electric goods, fasion, and the auto industry

WWII fact: The Ponte Vecchio, aka “Old Bridge” was the only bridge in Florence to survive, since the Germans, who occupied the city in 1944, blew up the bridges to thwart the incoming British.  From ’43-44, the city was occupied by Germany.

-

Florence was the capital of Italy from 1865-1871 and is called the Jewel or Capital of the Renaissance.  Due to the many public squares and historic buildings, the city is often referred to as an open-air museum.

I took this picture looking down on Florence.  This is the view of the picture at the header of this blog :)

I took this picture looking down on Florence. This is the view of the picture at the header of this blog :)

This is the Ponte S. Niccolo, a main bridge in Florence.  It was bombed and destroyed in 1944 (subsequently rebuilt)  as Italy was being bombarded by the Allies.

This is the Ponte S. Niccolo, a main bridge in Florence. It was bombed and destroyed in 1944 (subsequently rebuilt) by the Germans (who occupied the city after the Italians switch sides during the war) to thwart the incoming British.

The Fortezza Da Basso (Fortress of St. John the Baptist), built in the 14th century to protect the Pope in case of revolt or attack.

The Fortezza Da Basso (Fortress of St. John the Baptist), built in the 14th century to protect the Pope in case of revolt or attack.

Typical Florence playground- the kids play soccer instead of basketball.

Typical Florence playground- the kids play soccer instead of basketball.  I can attest that they love their soccer here.  Even when the Italian team had already been knocked out of the World Cup there was much passion and interest.

This is the house were Galileo lived and ultimately passed away.  He discovered Jupiter's moons and sunspots on the moon from this residency.

This is the house were Galileo lived and ultimately passed away. He discovered Jupiter’s moons and sunspots on the moon from this residency.

-

Today, Italian manufacturing is dominated by small and medium sized businesses.  There have been burdensome domestic regulations in the past that many economists attribute to the current lack of large production facilities.  Oftentimes, well-intended laws tend to hurt the economy in the long run.   Local laws that help in the short run can hinder an economy in the long run.  One such law (in my opinion)  is the EU local content laws that mandate a minimum percentage of certain products be assembled in Europe.  In the US, the isolationist-minded Smoot Hawley Tariff act of 1930 was intended to help domestic producers, since international goods would thus be very expensive, but it ultimately thwarted international commerce so much that it drove up prices due to lack of competition.  It remains to be seen what similar well-intended laws like EU local content laws do to the pan-European economy in the long run.

An example of a very successful small multinational production operation is the Pierotucci factory, which I was able to tour.  The company was established in 1972 and had 20-30 sales representatives, selling to the locals.  As the company become more successful, they eventually moved their operations out of the center of the city.  The first non-domestic customers were Japanese women, who loved their handbags.  The top sellers today for men are belts and wallets, whereas the top sellers for women are handbags.  They only use Italian leather because it is of the highest quality and that’s what their global consumers expect.   Today, less than .5% of the business is sold domestically.  They can design specialty items for an extra two days wait.  The production facility use  hydraulic presses and utilize vegetable tan leather…vegetable tan leather is the style of leather used when carving is needed.

Pierotucci leather factory site

Company sign

Company sign

P6P5P4P3P2P

From their website: The Pierotucci leather factory has been producing hand crafted quality leather goods for nearly 40 years. Employing only skilled Italian leather artisans with decades of experience, who pour their heart and soul into creating leather masterpieces, the Pierotucci leather factory has established itself as a leading producer of leather goods in Italy. The factory not only supplies merchandise for its own showroom and boutique, in the past years they have produced leather goods for famous fashion designers as well. Famous names like Fratelli Rossetti, Cole Haan, Bally and Hugo Boss have outsourced their leather production to the Pierotucci Leather Factory. With quality and timely delivery, Pierotucci leather factory continues to design and create its own lines of leather goods.

-

Freemasonry was banned in Italy from 1922-1945.  Dictator Benito Musollini saw Freemasonry as a threat, presumably because of their belief in personal liberty and free media. Musollini sent his “Black Shirt” thugs to burn and destroy Italian Masonic lodges/temples when he first became dictator.  Over 100 Masons were killed in Florence as they tried to defend their lodges.  He was quoted as saying ““Masonry must be destroyed and Masons should have no right to citizenship in Italy. To reach this end all means are good, from the club to the gun, from the breaking of windows to the purifying fire… The Masons must be ostracized… Their very life must be made impossible.”

After receiving an official letter of introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana, I was able to send this to Cristiano Franceschini, owner of the “Museum of Masonic Symbols”.  I would have been able to gain access to the museum either way, but the letter allowed me access to a local lodge which he belongs.

Official Letter of Introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana

Official Letter of Introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana

Upon arriving, I presented him with a Masonic pin from the Grand Lodge of Indiana.  He was very grateful and indicated that he will add this to his collection of pins in his museum.  He said that it took him 40+ years to build up his artifacts.  He provided me mountains of fascinating information and then gave me a personal tour of Masonic history hidden within the city of Florence

showing (2)

This is the attire for a Masonic person from Massachusetts during the era of the Founding Fathers.

I won’t bore everyone w/ these artifacts, but I most enjoyed the section devoted to American Freemasons.  I wasn’t aware that Native Americans have a rich history of Masonry.  It was first presented to them as a way to develop mutual understanding and brotherhood from the European settlers.  Both Sitting Bull and and Geronimo were Freemasons.

Native American Masonic history.

Native American Masonic history.

Native American in Masonic attire.

Native American in Masonic attire.

 

Grandfather of Cristiano, who was forced to abandon Masonry during the Musollini regime.

Grandfather of Cristiano, who was forced to abandon Masonry during the Musollini regime, from 1922-1944.

He graciously gave me a private tour around Florence to show me the different places involving a piece of Masonic history.  We started talking about famous Italian-Americans and I learned that Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was a Mason.

Showing

Cristiano showing me a piece of one of the medieval walls built around the perimeter of the city as protection were preserved after the demolition in the 1800s.

Cristiano showing me a piece of one of the medieval walls which were built around the perimeter of the city as protection that was preserved after the demolition during the 1800s.

Both of us in front of a lodge in Florence.

Both of us in front of a lodge in Florence at the top of the Monte Alle Croci hilltop overlooking Florence.

As for the conference, it was first rate all the way.  This was the first conference that provided up to date journals in related disciplines for the attendees.   The hotel where the conference was held was a 4 star venue and were were able to eat there as well.  I enjoyed that they assigned “discussants” for each paper to help facilitate dialogue (along w/ the theme chair) after the presentation.  Being a discussant was enjoyable, as it allowed for the opportunity to delve in to more specifics of a research paper from a similar discipline before the actual presentation.

I'll be presenting my research paper in Session 12 alongside authors from Portugal, Scotland, Canada, and the Czech Republic.

I’ll be presenting my research paper in Session 12 alongside authors from Portugal, Scotland, Canada, and the Czech Republic.

 The powerpoint presentations for one theme were projected for the sessions on a plasma television.

The powerpoint presentations for one theme were projected on a plasma television.

My presentation

My presentation

information about the conference can be found here

Romania

In Craiova, Romania at the 10th World Congress: The Human Being as a Species:  Its Nature and Functions, presenting my paper “Profiles of CEOs from Top-Performing Multinational Manufacturing versus Financial Organizations: Age, tenure, internal hiring, and gender”.


Fact about the paper: Financial and industrial CEO profiles were researched and findings include some of the following notes:  The average age for the industrial companies was older by over two years, with financial CEOs averaging 56.72 years while industrial CEOs averaged 58.92 years.  Tenure of industrial CEOs was over a full year higher than that of financial CEOs, and the industrial sector had more likelihood of hiring someone from within the company with 79.2% being internal hires versus 68.1% for financial CEOs.  Lastly, The Asian CEOs were all internal hires and the European CEOs had the longest job tenure.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 35%, 1st out of 7-most industry-intensive/reliant (Theodora stats)

Country’s most Important Industries: arms, mining, consumer durables, and textile/athletic apparel (since Western European labels generally outsource production there)

WWII fact: After the fall of France, the Romanian government formed an allegiance w/ the Axis powers and helped in the German invasion of the USSR.  The country later switched sides in 1944 after being subject to intense bombing, and eventually fell under the thumb of Communism/USSR for the Cold War, while never coming close to regaining its pre-war stature.

Presenting in Romania in the Saturday morning session along w/ scholars from India, Russia, and Belgium.

Presenting in Romania in the Saturday morning session along w/ scholars from India, Russia, and Belgium.

Craiova is the 6th largest city in Romania so some of this will be information about the country of Romania.  Transylvania, home of Dracula’s castle,  is in Romania.  The economy has struggled versus its European peers since the end of the Cold War, having a strong cigarette smuggling underground, and the government has enacted a new law taxing witchcraft, sorcery, and any black-magic trades.  Romania has the largest gypsy population in the world.  I can attest that smoking is rampant.  Every establishment that I visited had ash trays at every table.  There are no indoor smoking bans and this really reminds me of College where everybody seemed to smoke all the time.

Craiova was home of the first fountain-pen in 1827.  The city was invaded and burned by the Turks in 1802.  It was the first city to be powered by electricity.  The communist regime chose the city of Craiova to be a center for industrial development in the 1960s, including engine production and automobile development.

-

Well, the only way to Craiova was through the capital of Romania…Bucharest.  I mistakenly thought that I could take a train to Craiova from anywhere in Europe.  That was a lesson learned.

This is a typical building in Bucharest, the capital.  I had to get to Bucharest to locate a direct train to Craiova.

This is a typical building in Bucharest, the capital. I had to get to Bucharest to locate a direct train to Craiova.

The train ride from Bucharest to Craiova took much longer than it should.  It seemed like it was going very slow as compared to the other European trains.  Bucharest is somewhat isolated as a capital, and Craiova is a three-hour train ride from Bucharest, so you can image how Craiova might be.  There were no electrical outlets on this trains as well, which was a surprise.

Romania is the world's largest exporter of Sunflower seeds.

Romania is the world’s largest exporter of Sunflower seeds.

You can learn quite a bit about a country by watching the scenes from a train.

You can learn quite a bit about a country by watching the scenes from a train.

This is by far the coolest currency.  The mask is see-through, and it's slick like a deck of cards which makes it easy to flip through.

This is by far the coolest currency. The joker mask on the left is see-through, and it’s slick like a deck of cards which makes it easy to flip through.  They are not yet full members of the EU for many economic reasons.

Cab rides seem to cost 1/6 of what they do anywhere else in Europe.  Also, the hotel room was 1/2 the price, with 3X the extravagance.  Most everyone was nice and helpful.  The city is going through an intense infrastructure modernization, including the construction of a tram through their main street.  This is because next year they are applying to be the official “cultural capital of Europe” for the year 2021, which annually gets awarded to a different city.

I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but after having gone on several trips to other areas in Southeast Europe, people generally talk louder and are more expressive in their mannerisms in this region of the world.  However, there is less bravado and arrogance as compared to the other countries in Europe.  Sounds odd, but it’s true.  Also, there were a bunch of stray dogs… even more than in West Terre Haute.

-

Craiova is home to a major multinational production facility…. Ford Motor Co.  It was established in 1935 but taken over by the Axis powers for their own use during WWII.  Their workers work very hard and are grateful for the employment (wasn’t able to take pictures inside).  There was a dealership around the corner as well.  To see a Ford dealership in Europe is very odd… to see a Ford car at all in Europe is odd.

FordFord2Ford3Ford4

-

On to the conference.  There was a much different vibe at this conference as compared to the EGOS in Rotterdam.  Maybe that is because I haven’t encountered any Frenchmen at this one.

congress_001

A hospitable University of Craiova Physics professor showed me and two Chinese attendees around.

A hospitable University of Craiova Physics professor showed me and two Chinese attendees around the original massive University of Craiova building, which was its initial venue for all activities after WWII as even the communist regime understood the need for higher education in their city.

This is the original building where all classes were held when the University was established (somewhat recently) in the 1960s.

This is the original building where all classes were held when the University was established (somewhat recently) in the 1947.

Posters with information about potential classes are available for students to browse- great idea!

Posters with information about potential classes are available for students to browse- great idea!

Keynote speaker

Keynote speaker

We were able to go see a theatre/play called "The Rhinoceros... hey I'm in Europe so don't get on me about this.

We were able to go see a theatre/play called “The Rhinoceros… hey I’m in Europe so don’t get on me about this.

This guy was in my presentation theme.  He was from Bulgaria.  The format was to present, and then allow the moderators to facilitate Q&A.

This guy was in my presentation theme. He was from Bulgaria. The format was to present, and then allow the moderators to facilitate Q&A.

My turn.  The overhead didn't work so no pwpt... as such, we decided to do a sit-down version.

My turn. The overhead didn’t work so no pwpt… as such, we decided to do a sit-down version.

Q & A

Q & A

The presenters, moderators, and audience at the end of the panel.

The presenters, moderators, and audience at the end of the conference breakout theme.

Socially, there was much soccer (aka football) watched, and some really good conversations.  The French lost while I was in Craiova, which nobody seemed to be upset about.  There isn’t much immigration in Romania and the society is not too multicultural.  Practically nobody spoke English unless they were affiliated with the University or the conference.  Even the younger taxi drivers didn’t speak any English.  People did seem to care more about their jobs, though.  One of the older taxi drivers was able to get across to me that there were only one or two channels (state-run music) before the fall of Communism.  None of the taxis had a GPS and several didn’t even have meters.  Even though it’s only a few countries east of Germany, it felt like a whole different world.  Many of the shackles of the Communist regime still have a profound stifling effect on the citizens, especially the older ones who had absolutely no exposure to Western culture for their early lives.  However, there were less people “on the hustle” as compared to Western European countries and less of a need to watch your back.

-

Personally, one of the highlights of the trip is that the country is at least 85% of the citizens are Orthodox Christian.  Romania is one of only two European countries with an official national religion (Greece being the other).  It was really nice to see so many churches pop up into the scenery at all sorts of different places.  I met several Romanian Orthodox priests who teach Theology at the University of Craiova.  The priest at the right in the picture has a publishing company that has published hundreds of texts on Orthodoxy which have been exported around the world.

priests

church2

A view of the city center area at dusk, with a church in the background.

The taxi cab driver that took me to the airport made the sign of the cross three times every time we passed a church.  This occurred about seven total times in 10 miles.  I decided to follow suit.  Then, once we got to the airport, he tried to convince me to pay him 30% extra… oh well- just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

information about the conference can be found here

 

Greece

In Athens, Greece at the 12th Annual International Conference on Management, presenting my research paper, “America’s Staple Exports and the EU’s Favorite Purchases: Seasonal Trends in Global Exporting of Consumer Durables”


Fact about the paper: Statistics on Consumer Durables, which play a central role in predicting and dictating GNP in both America and Europe, are reported yearly, and this study breaks this data down by season, and found through a cross-sectional analysis that since the 1980’s, purchases generally spike during both the Summer and Fall months.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 16%, 4th out of 7 (Theodora stats)

Country’s most Important Industries: food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, mining

WWII fact:  Athens was occupied by both Italy and Germany during the war, when over 40,000 citizens in the area died from starvation because the city imported a sizable amount of their food and trade came to a halt.

-

I would have enjoyed taking part a bit more in the Athens conference but had the opportunity to go to Copenhagen to tour the Carlsberg grounds, considered a crown-jewel in Copenhagen, and so that trip cut in to the Athens conference.

The Danish have a history of trade, much like Holland.  Former industrial buildings have been transformed and modernized to form the new skyline w/ glass being a popular trend.  Copenhagen was the first urban city to restrict cars to streets to bar cars and go pedestrian friendly.

copenhagen

I was able to take a tour through the Carlsberg brewery grounds and production site.  Their operations are enormous.  Founded in 1847, they’ve made some important strategic decisions over the years to survive and thrive.  They first started exporting in 1868.  Although many Americans aren’t aware of the brand, it’s slowly making inroads into the American market.  The company has developed a brand image throughout Europe largely due to their sponsorships of soccer events including the European championship, which is the second most prestigious tournament, next to the World Cup.  The truck in the photo below is one of the first trucks to transport the product around the country, when the infrastructure of the country didn’t necessitate high speeds for cargo.  Currently, they are the 5th largest brewery in the world.

CarlsburgCarlsburg (2)intro Carlsburg signCarsburg

The country tends to have quite a bit of nationalism and Carlsberg is their local company that still employs many Danish in the country.  Recent reports indicate that the company has nearly 47,000 employees, many of which are Danish.  Local buy-in is often an important ingredient for international industry to rely upon as a cash cow before investments can be solicited for global investment.  Below is a display at the airport.  The Danish are emotionally invested in this product, just like many in St. Louis and beyond are emotionally invested in Anheuser Busch.

airport-Carlsburg

-

Another key industrial power in Denmark is the Lundbeck company.  The company’s core competency is R&D related to pharmaceuticals.  I spoke to a few employees who were able provide some insight as to their operational efficiencies.  Of their 6,000 worldwide empoyees, 1/3 are Danish.  The company invests 20% of profits back into R&D, which is mostly contained in the domestic market.  Lexapro and Sabril are among their products.  Like many successful international industrialists, they rely heavily upon American consumers for their profits.

Lundbeck

-

On to Athens.  Democracy, philosophy, and theatre all originated here.  Athens is truly the epicenter of many capitalistic viewpoints that we Americans hold dear.  Today, the Greeks manufacture 16 percent of all merchant shipping.  I’ve been to Athens before and they truly have an interesting culture.  IMO, the culture is very nationalistic and devoted to one another.  Even when Greek communities immigrate to America, they hold dear to their beliefs and pass it on from generation to generation.  I had the privilege of being a camp counselor in a Greek camp for 4 years in Seattle and it was an important component of my personal depiction of Greek culture.  Below shows my the context of my presentation.

Conference List of Accepted Papers and Attendees

Conference List of Accepted Papers and Attendees (cont.)

Athens is the cradle of Western civilization including democracy and it’s one of the world’s oldest cities.  Greece became members of the EC in 1982 and adopted the Euro 20 years later.  However, budget issues have plagued them and they have consequently spread around the EU in a negative fashion.  The Greek economy was in the center of many debt crisis of the EU and were forced to issue “austerity” measures upon their government.  This brought about debate upon the merits of “austerity”, government mandates to decrease spending or increase taxes.

-
It was a short trip because I was able to gain access to the side-trip to Copenhagen, Denmark.  Part of the fun of these conferences is the ability to gain cultural insight into another’s world, or in this case academic world.  Unfortunately, the schedule dictated a brief Greek adventure and much of the collegial interaction was not as fruitful as it might have been during a less-dense itinerary.

The “A” hotel had an unbelievable view of the Parthenon on its urban terrace.

A for Athens

The Acropolis, which is considered to be the world’s most noteworthy ancient site, as well as the Parthenon which sits atop.

A

-

Me in front of the Acropolis

Me in front of the Acropolis

Ancient ruins

Ancient ruins

information about the conference can be found here

Netherlands In Rotterdam, Netherlands at the 30th EGOS (European Group for Organizational Studies) Colloquium’s Post-Doctoral and Early Career Scholars Pre-Colloquium Workshop, hosted by the Rotterdam School of Management, presenting my paper “Disparities in Duality Management Structure in Top Industrial Multinational Organizations in America Versus Europe”.


Fact about the paper: Top-performing industrial organizations based on 2012 total assets were analyzed and number and locations of organizations utilizing the duality management structure, whereas the CEO and Chairman of the Board are the same person,  the tenure of the CEOs who were also chairmen was 7.35 years, whereas the tenure of the CEOs of companies with a separate chairman was only 4.27 years.  In 2012, Forbes noted that the median age of Fortune 500 CEOs was 55 (Statistic Brain, 2012).  However, industrial CEOs in this study tended to be older, with the duality CEOs averaging 59.94 years. Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 11.9%, 6th out of 7 (OECD stats) Country’s most Important Industries: Metal and engineering products, agriculture equipment, and petroleum. WWII fact:  The annihilation of the city by German bombs during the “Rotterdam Blitz”, where 25,000 homes were destroyed,  prompted the surrender of the Dutch in 1940, and the area soon became an area for the German air force in their UK attacks.   20,000 civilians starved to death in the 1944-45 winter. -

Here is the agenda for the Rotterdam conference.  I'll be the official paper reviewer for a presenter based in the UK.

Here is the agenda for the Rotterdam conference. I’ll be the official paper reviewer for a presenter based in the UK.

Well, I hopped on a train to Rotterdam from the Amsterdam airport as soon as I landed as to get there before kickoff.  The train took about an hour but I only missed kickoff by a few minutes.  Sure enough, the game was playing on a bigscreen TV in the train station.  This is the sort of scene I saw on several instances when I arrived and started walking towards the general scene, so I decided to set up shop at one and blended in.  As long as you aren’t a fan of the German team, they will accept you. IMG_3220 Well, the Dutch were down 1-0 until the end when they tied and then kicked a goal off a penalty to take the lead and win.  After the dramatic comeback, the streets were filled with people yelling and honking their horns.  It was an unbelievable scene.  It’ s like being in Dallas if the Cowboys were to make a last minute comeback in a playoff game. The conference was split up between the Early Scholars group (those seeking their PhD) and the Post-Doc group, those that have recently earned their PhD, and all met in joint sessions as well.  Our “post-doc” group of presenters had two French post-doc colleagues and two post-doc English colleagues.  It was good to compare notes with others who are in similar situations in their career. IMG_3324 Each of our papers were distributed to the group, and we spent an entire hour discussing each paper.  Out of 200 or so participants, I didn’t meet another American.  I have a few theories as to why.  They were here from all around the globe including very far away such as Australia, India, Japan, and Chile.  Great cultural diversity and very nice people.  I learned a lot from them. Group of session presenters Erasmus University is beautiful and very clean.  The conference took place in the management building and was very well organized. Erasmus lecture – The Port of Rotterdam sees the most activity in Europe.  It was the busiest port on earth from 1962 until 2002, when a port in Singapore took over the top spot.  Much European cargo from underdeveloped areas goes through this port.  From working at US Customs and Border Protection for 3 years, I’m aware that very few shipments are manually inspected.  The supply chain efficiencies will come to a grinding halt if too many boxes are checked. rotte The Netherlands calls the 17th-century their Golden Age, when Dutch traders established a global economy.   Much cargo still flows through the port.  I wrote another article about consumer durables that discusses the Port of Rotterdam.  Here is one of many control towers on the port.  It’s an enormous operation. control tower Next was a site tour to the famous Van Nelle Factory front factory “From 1931 until 1990, the Van Nelle Factory (Van Nelle Ontwerpfabriek) was a factory used to produce coffee, tea and tobacco. When it opened its doors in 1931, it was one of the most innovative and modern buildings of its time.”  (Holland.com)   This original structure was a destination for global production architects.  It was one of the first factories to create space between the areas rather than cram everything in and ended up becoming an architecture envy. VN sign It was considered a modern marvel when it was erected in the 1920s during the country’s economic expansion and originally produced tobacco, tea, and coffee by a local family business that was established in 1798.

Here, they show the dozens of the traditional tobacco label.

Here, they have a display showing the traditional tobacco labels.

Every floor was a separate production line.  This floor was for "tobacco".

Every floor was a separate production line. This floor was for tabak, or “tobacco”.

German intentionally didn’t bomb it but production facilities nearby were bombed and it caught some of the shrapnel and damaged some of the building.  The Germans utilized the top floor of the building for lookout posts.

The view on the top floor, as seen, was beneficial for the Germans who occupied the city during WW II.

The view on the top floor, as seen, was beneficial for the Germans who occupied the city during WW II.

Men and women walked up different stairways- it was far away enough to "shake hands but not kiss", as seen in the different stairs for the different genders.

Men and women walked up different stairways- it was far away enough to “shake hands but not kiss”, as seen in the different stairs for the different genders.

The famous diagonal walkways around the facilities were not planned that way.  They weren't horizontal because they were built on one side during the 1920s to connect the upper levels, bu there wasn't enough money to build the upper level on the opposite side so they just connected it with the lower floor on the opposite side instead.

The famous diagonal walkways around the facilities were not planned that way. They weren’t horizontal because they were built on one side during the 1920s to connect the upper levels, but when there wasn’t enough money to build the upper level on the opposite side, they just connected them with the lower floor on the opposite side instead.

1955, the second power plant in Rotterdam was built there and it provided hot water to every house, which was a big innovation at that time.  There was no hot water except for the elites before then.  Typically, Europeans were behind with plumbing and infrastructure during the 20th century vis-a-vis America.

1955, the second power plant in Rotterdam was built there and it provided hot water to every house, which was a big innovation at that time. There was no hot water except for the elites before then. Typically, Europeans were behind with plumbing and infrastructure during the 20th century vis-a-vis America.

Philip Morris acquired it in the 1990s but didn’t operate for too long.  Today, the ground floor is booked as a venue for events, as it has appeal as a historic brand and venue.  It is primarily used for multimedia and video design, architecture firms, and other companies that operate but not produce there.  Mostly service organizations work there now. – My favorite part of the trip was the trip to a Rotterdam Rotary club meeting.  It was in the municipality of Delfshaven, which grew in population and economic might due to their harbour.  When I arrived, I was surprised to notice that it wasn’t at a hotel like I was accustomed.  The gentleman that opened the door informed me that he owned the building and that it was a microbrewery.  The downstairs was a restaurant and the upstairs, where the Rotary meetings are held, is an event room.  He showed me where he brews the beer and we discussed the industry for awhile.  There seem to be lots of similar microbreweries popping up in America but there have been quite a few operating already in Rotterdam for many years.  People like to keep their money local and take pride in drinking a local beer.

Here is the production operations where the Rotary club has their meetings.

Here is the production operations where the Rotary club has their meetings.

I was surprised to learn that prior inhabitants next door were the “Pilgrim” family.  In 1960, the Pilgrim Fathers had their last church service, left to America and the rest is history.

This commemorates those from next door who left for America on the Mayflower.

This commemorates those from next door who left for America on the Mayflower.

The other Rotarians were extremely nice and personable.  They couldn’t have been better hosts.  They socialized for about 20 minutes before the meeting began.  Everyone ordered a drink, so I thought I should do the same.

A very classy setup.

A very classy setup.

I had a chance to look around the room and noticed this picture of a Dutch nobleman.  Is it just me or does this look like Curly from the 3 Stooges with a mustache?

Dutch Nobleman or Curly with a mustache?

Dutch Nobleman or Curly with a mustache?

They presented me with their flag and I gave them one from our local chapter. flags (2)

The Changing of the Guard included the typical European kiss on the cheek.  The new  President wore the medal and made his speech about the upcoming year.

The Changing of the Guard included the typical European kiss on the cheek. The new President wore the medal and made his speech about the upcoming year.

kissoncheek fellas A doctor offered me a ride from Rotary back to the conference.  Here, he shows me a Russian Orthodox church, which is the gold building in the background. Russian There were too many other “cultural” places to mention, but Rotterdam is a great city with many of the same challenges of our cities.  It was a wonderful treat to be able to go watch the soccer games.  Fans are very passionate and they don’t just watch the games with their favorite teams but have an interest in other games and the sport in general.  I didn’t mind being the sole American in most every establishment.  Since Americans are usually loud, I did my best to blend in and not offend. IMG_3330 On to Athens.

information about the conference can be found here

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 867 other followers