Dieter Nicolai is building bridges between Europe and Asia. (Image: Yonsik Augustin Shin)
Dieter Nicolai is building bridges between Europe and Asia. (Image: Yonsik Augustin Shin)

The Bridge PCA

Bridging Business

From his base in South Korea, the native of Wetzlar brings people and business partners together. His motto: “Only those who understand people will understand business.”

Digital Media City is one of Seoul’s most modern districts. Designed by the reknown architects Barkow Leibinger, the TRUTEC Building stands out like a sculpture. The Bridge PCA is located on the eleventh floor. There, Dieter Nicolai has the necessary farsightedness. He needs it in a physical sense, too. From his office he has a view over one of the world’s largest and economically most powerful metropolitan area. It is just 10 kilometers from Seoul International Airport and exactly the same distance to the city center. More than 10 million people live and work here. The main employers are Hyundai, Samsung and LG Electronics. But Nicolai’s farsightedness extends way beyond the hardly visible boundaries of the city of Seoul. It’s only about a two-hour flight to Taiwan and the great industrial centers of Japan as well as the meanwhile highly industrialized Chinese metropolises Peking, Shanghai, Hongkong, Shenzhen and Shenyang. Europe is rather more distant. Yet it’s the exact focus of Dieter Nicolai’s bridge-building activities.

Cooperative ventures between Germany and South Korea

Nicolai had already worked in the optical industry for over 25 years when he was asked in 2006 to set up a foreign branch in Asia for his employer at that time, Schneider Kreuznach. The chosen location was South Korea. The fact that Nicolai was married to a South Korean made it easier for him to decide to relocate his home and job there. In January 2007 he moved to Seoul with his family. In the following years, he initiated and managed successful cooperative ventures between Schneider Kreuznach and Samsung, and later with LG. He gradually expanded his Asian network, contacting companies in Korea, Taiwan and China.

Since April 2013, Dieter Nicolai has pursued his goal to establish successful partnerships between European and Asian companies in the optics and electronics business with his own consulting company. “We see ourselves as a kind of ‘matchmaking agency’: clients approach us with the request to help them find a suitable partner. Together, we draw up a search profile that meets the client’s needs, paying attention to age, appearance, job, hobbies, interests, etc. It’s then our job to find this ideal partner and pave the way for a relationship. If you now transfer this example from classic matchmaking to business relationships, you have The Bridge PCA.”

Technological and cultural backgrounds

When breaking ground for value-adding partnerships, technological issues, questions on hardware and software, production facilities and supply chains naturally play a crucial role. However, Dieter Nicolai has discovered the immense significance of another, often neglected, aspect: “Over the course of more than thirty years, I have learned that global business often brings people with extremely different cultural backgrounds together. For this to be successful, you need to have a fine understanding of these cultural differences. You can only build up a lasting relationship if you understand people – this is especially true of business relationships.”

So apart from exchanging know-how it’s important to take confidence-building measures, particularly when it comes to expressing respect and esteem for the partner or protecting ideas and innovations in highly sensitive R&D projects. The latter is a decisive factor for German companies moving into the Asian market. Dieter Nicolai regards his intermediary role in this context as one of his core tasks. There is no doubt in his mind that companies from Germany and Asia meet as equals in terms of technology. And the development of cooperation projects between Europe and Asia is falling on extremely fertile ground – on both sides – especially in the fields of optics and electronics.

Recent development projects

Only recently, The Bridge PCA signed a consultancy contract with a Wetzlar company for examining the opportunities and possibilities of cooperation with companies in South Korea, Taiwan and China. The contract involves joint development projects, the procurement of optic components and the sale of the Wetzlar company’s own products in Asia. “This project got off to a highly successful start and we are giving it extremely high priority,” enthuses Dieter Nicolai. “The pillars of this bridge have already been erected. And we will do everything in our power to make sure traffic flows successfully and permanently in both directions.”



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