Of the 78,000 Germans who visit each year, some stay to set up businesses.

Raglan might seem an unlikely place for a couple of Germans to start a business. But for Thomas Wessling and Bjorn Ledwig - directors of window firm Ecowindows - it made perfect sense.


Ledwig ran Raglan Joinery in the coastal town for almost 20 years. He met Wessling in his role as marketing manager of Ledwig's German hardware supplier.


"My family and I had travelled through New Zealand and my wife and I got married in Christchurch in 2000, but we'd never been to Raglan before," says Wessling.


"We eventually came here in 2010, and once we saw it we fell in love with it.


"Bjorn had been doing more traditional joinery, but we decided there was an opportunity for a business that focused on using an energy-efficient German system.


"I had access to the hardware through my former company and my network of other suppliers in Germany and Bjorn brought his knowledge of making windows.


That's how we joined to start Ecowindows in 2011."


Monique Surges is CEO of the New Zealand German Business Association and says there are common factors among Germans who successfully set up businesses here.


"Usually they've been here on holiday - 78,000 German tourists come here annually - and they've realised New Zealand is more than just beautiful landscapes. They see the potential to explore a possible niche in the market," says Surges.


"They're generally experts in their field in Germany and have global experience in that market. They're taking that knowledge into a new market here in New Zealand."


Isabel Pasch, originally from Berlin, is an owner of Bread and Butter Bakery and Cafe.


After running her own small bakery in Auckland for a couple of years she joined forces with local business partners to set up Bread and Butter.


"My business partners have a long background in hospitality and a deep understanding of the scene here, which I didn't have coming from overseas, so partnering with them has been essential for me to grow the business so quickly."


By Anna Dudding

Herald on Sunday


Image: Raglan might seem an unlikely place for a couple of Germans to start a business. But for Thomas Wessling and Bjorn Ledwig it made perfect sense.

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