Driven by the Winds of Change: Part 6

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Driven by the Winds of Change: Part 6

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The family returned to the Netherlands.

The Strauss company was still a successful, growing international firm, and appreciated their hardworking staff member who had been so willing to make huge changes in his life on their behalf. So they told him they wanted to keep him.  But what could they find for him to do next?

At that time, in the first decade of the 2000s, the top executives at Strauss were looking to expand into Asia. They were having discussions about new operations with partners in Vietnam and Singapore. This seemed to be a possibly fruitful new avenue for the man who enjoyed change.

But then disaster struck. The world plunged into a major financial crisis at the end of 2008. Share prices and valuations tumbled, currencies went on roller coaster rides, and thousands of planned acquisitions and merger plans were simply cancelled. The plans for operation in Vietnam and Singapore were abandoned.

In the following years, as the world gradually recovered from what people were calling the “financial tsunami”, there were some glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel.

The bosses at Strauss decided that there was a real opportunity in the fast-changing world of coffee, where single-serve pods and portable coffee machines had suddenly become the new way of brewing one of the world’s top two favorite drinks.

“Head office of Caffitaly in Gaggio Montano, Italy, one of the top five largest coffee capsule producers in the world.”

Strauss chiefs asked Marcel Corbeau to investigate that business, and he identified a company called Caffitaly as the best partner to work with.

This was an Italian firm that made products similar to Nespresso, the market leader, but with better coffee and more versatile coffee machines.

Two filters inside the capsule (one at the top and one at the bottom) ensure perfect distribution of water inside the capsule for an even extraction

One of the unique selling points was that the Caffitaly system can make a wide range of coffees, just like Nespresso and other machines, but it can also make tea: Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey, green tea, it does them all – even fruit teas and herbal teas. It can also be used for hot chocolate. And of course, you could use it for fashionable, next-generation drinks such as a Matcha green tea with Ginseng.

Coffee, tea, chocolate, milk, and more all from the same machine

The secret is that the Caffitaly machine has two levels of pressure – a high-pressure option perfect for coffee capsules, and a lower-pressure one that is ideal for other drinks.

Strauss asked Marcel to help their JV business in Brazil to launch the new Caffitaly capsules business over there. However, he did not move back to Brazil; instead, he helped them from the Netherlands. After it was implemented, Strauss and Marcel came to the conclusion that there were no more challenging opportunities for him in the short term and that it would be best to part ways. That’s when he and Sandra decided to go to HK.

Italian designed compact multi-beverage capsule machines

But Marcel had other ideas. The Western world had fallen in love with coffee in a range of different forms. Now, he realized, the Eastern world was embarking taking the same journey. He had worked on both sides of the Atlantic: now it was time to look East.

Also, he had spent a lot of time as a senior executive in entrepreneurial businesses. He had reached the top as a company worker. Now it was time for yet another change.

It was time for him to go into business for himself.

He bought a ticket to Hong Kong, for yet another change of life.

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