In the bustling workshop of the MESNAC European Research and Technical Centre (MERTC) in central Slovakia’s Trencin region, workers are diligently assembling hydraulic curing presses for a Spanish client. Meanwhile, software engineers conduct final checks on their latest designs. In a meeting room, Chinese and Slovak technical teams engage in discussions aimed at enhancing their innovations.

Established in 2009 as the first overseas subsidiary of MESNAC, one of the world’s largest suppliers of machinery for the tire and rubber industry headquartered in Qingdao, China, MERTC is making strides in its collaboration with local talent. MERTC, with a team of six Chinese and around 40 local Slovaks, has recently achieved a significant milestone by becoming a member of the Tyre Curing Press Work Group of the European Committee for Standardization.

This membership not only highlights the fruitful partnership between the Chinese and Slovak teams but also positions MERTC as a contributor to the standard-setting process. President and General Director of MERTC, Trevor Xu, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “Instead of just following rules, we are now a part of the rule makers.” This membership empowers MERTC to incorporate future rule changes early in the time- consuming design process, ensuring compliance with European and global standards for their tire machinery.

Reflecting on the establishment of MERTC, Xu explained that MESNAC’s Chairman, Guan Bingzheng, aimed to infuse “European DNA” into the research and development of their tire building machines and curing presses while exploring the European market. Slovakia’s unique position in the automotive industry, producing 185 cars per 1,000 inhabitants annually, surpassing even industry giants like Germany, made it an attractive location. Xu emphasized that beyond the favourable industry environment, the high technology knowledge and cooperation of the local workforce were pivotal factors.

Operating directly in Europe provides numerous advantages, allowing MERTC to closely follow local market criteria, meet demands, and ensure easily accessible machinery parts for clients. The company has also collaborated with external partners for after-sales service across various parts of Europe. MERTC Deputy Director Stefan Kukucka, a Slovakian, highlighted the effectiveness of cross- cultural cooperation, stating, “We are all human beings with 80 percent of the same features. The rest are cultural differences, but we must cooperate, understand each other, and I think it works.”

Through training and collaboration, the Slovak and Chinese teams have learned from each other, contributing to continuous improvements in their machinery and final products. Kukucka remains optimistic about the European market, citing the regular upgrading of machinery by their customers.