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Guiding international expansion


Seeking to scale up

Interlub is a specialty industrial lubricant firm based in Guadalajara, Mexico. In 2013, Interlub asked a Global Organizations Lab (GO-Lab) team for help devising a strategy for expanding the company’s highly intensive, customer-centric approach to product development into new international markets. The GO-Lab team researched the business and helped Interlub identify areas of competitive advantage. Then, in 2014, Interlub returned to GO-Lab for guidance as the company considered expanding into the mining sector, with a probable target of Peru.

Ethnographic research

The GO-Lab team surveyed management and sales personnel from both Interlub’s headquarters in Mexico and its well-run operation in Brazil to analyze why the company  was so successful. The students “shadowed” Interlub salesmen in both countries, which led them to identify benefits as well as notable differences in the two business cultures. Relationship-building – a strong feature in Mexico – was important, but so was systematic management of the sales process – a key characteristic in Brazil. Ultimately, the students recommended that any new operation incorporate these best practices from both operations.

A turning point for the company

One year after the GO-Lab project, Interlub opened a new office focused on mining, but in Colombia rather than Peru – and immediately implemented the students’ recommendations. “It is basically the way we are now operating our business in Colombia,” said Interlub CEO Rene Freudenberg, noting that the Colombia expansion has been a great success. “This [GO-Lab] project was really a turning point for us in our mindset and in the history of the company.”