Interview: Matt Andrisani, Crown Relocations

Business Development Manager CEE

Suchi Rudra

Written by Suchi Rudra
Published on 05.05.2010 15:24 (updated on 05.05.2010)

Matt Andrisani has been making his way around the world since he graduated from the University of Delaware. So it only makes sense that his most recent professional position is for the worldwide moving company Crown Relocations. In his role of Business Development Manager for the CEE, based in the company’s Prague office, Andrisani has been able to continue doing what he loves best: helping people, working in a multicultural team, and traveling.

The Delaware native’s first move abroad took him to Jamaica where he worked for two months at a student travel agency. One and a half years later, Andrisani found himself in southern California working for the well-known American wine company Ernest & Julio Gallo, who eventually sent him to Frankfurt, Germany in 2004 to help with the firm’s wine distribution among US military bases in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Andrisani was more than happy to be abroad, soaking up the culture, traveling around the region, and meeting many new people. However, the US military started to downsize in Germany, which meant less work for Ernest & Julio Gallo, and Andrisani was ready to take on a new challenge and get into something more entrepreneurial. In March of 2007, he joined Crown Relocations and moved to the Czech Republic.

“I spend a lot of personal time traveling, so this is kind of a dream job for me,” he said. “For me, what’s important is if your interests align with the interests of your job. It’s nice to go from being an expat to helping expats, because I like helping people. You are coaching them on what’s going to happen. The way to increase the business is to listen to what your clients need, and I spend a lot of time communicating this back to the office,” Andrisani explained.

Crown Relocations, with over 150 offices in 54 countries, offers five main services: Moving of Household Goods, Relocation services (home finding, school search, visa services), Office Moving, Transport of Fine Arts Exhibitions and Records Management.

Initially, Andrisani engaged with clients in the Czech and Slovak markets, but he now covers the entire CEE region, including Hungary, Poland, Romania, and some emerging markets such as the Baltics. As a manager, Andrisani’s main responsibility is to support the sales process and client relationship development, with a focus on multinational corporations and embassies, who make up about 80 percent of Crown’s CEE regional clientele both moving into and out of Prague. Andrisani adds that another 20 percent of their business comes from private individuals.

Crown Relocations does encounter “big competition” from other international moving companies, Andrisani said, but it’s the “dedication to customer service and providing the best value for the money” which he feels makes Crown stand out from the rest.

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“And right now, there is intense pressure on prices, because we aren’t the cheapest in the Czech Republic, nor is it our plan to be. Being simply the cheapest would take away from our ability to provide our clients with the service they expect from one of the largest international relocation companies in the world. I always explain to our clients: if you are buying a car that you put the safety of your family into, would you trust the cheapest price on the market just because it is the cheapest price? You would probably first ask, ‘What am I getting for the price?’”

As might be expected, the recent economic crisis has affected the relocation of expats into and out of Prague. Andrisani recalls that when Crown’s Prague office was established in 1999, international companies opening new offices in Prague meant that approximately 7 or 8 out of 10 clients were moving into the city, while 2 out of 10 clients were leaving the city. These incoming expats were also mostly from the US, Asia, and Western Europe. Three years ago, the firm saw about 6 out of every 10 clients departing including many Czechs departing Prague for the first time. Over the past year, however, due to the recession, there has been “a huge spike in departures from Prague,” Andrisani said, with 8 out of 10 moves going out of the city, and 1 out of 10 involving Czech repatriation. He added that this shift in departures is still taking place now.

Andrisani added that they are also seeing that the “type of expat” is rapidly changing. “In the past, it was very high salary foreign managers. Today it is very common that a company that had 10 senior foreign managers will have maybe just 2, but they will also have 10, 20, or more young, foreign staff working on local contracts. These foreign staff is expats too, and they have moved to a new country, have to find an apartment, require visas. And if their careers are successful, they will one day possibly be a manager and be relocated by the company onto an expat assignment in another country. This is why global mobility is such an important resource of so many of our corporate clients.”

But packing up a house or transporting containers across Europe isn’t all that the Crown offers its clients. Andrisani points out that “one of the big things now is intercultural training,” which Crown accomplishes by providing a full-day seminar for the client and his or her family. “Your way of doing business elsewhere can fail here in the Czech Republic,” he said, so the training helps clients understand the local culture, traditions, expectations and business practices.

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Working with a team of only five employees in Crown’s Prague office has helped Andrisani in learning the full spectrum of the business.

“I know what challenges my colleagues are facing,” he said. “I know how it all connects, the full picture,” he said. “You have to wear a lot of hats, be prepared to talk to anyone. So I’m always uncovering different ways to build the business. And that is why this business is exciting and interesting–because it is always changing, which is what I value the most.”

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Crown Relocations
IBC Buidling,
Pobrezni 3,
Praha 8

+420 224 832 304
prague@crownrelo.com

This article was commissioned by Crown Relocations and published as a courtesy to the Expats.cz community.