Distributor intervention for Güralp Systems Ltd.

Case study by Matthew Grandage

Strong connection

When Güralp Systems Ltd, the world’s leading producer of high-end seismic equipment, first contacted Grandage Consulting in November 2017 to explain their situation, they had our attention right away.

Earthquakes happen frequently in China, sometimes with devastating effect – not least the terrible Wenchuan (“5.12”) earthquake in on 12 May 2008, which cost over 70,000 lives in Sichuan province, and made 1.4 million people homeless.  My family and I lived in Sichuan for over ten years, and were there in Chengdu when the quake happened – the memory of that event, and the year that followed, will never leave us.

High sensitivity

China buys more ultra-sensitive broadband seismometers than any other country, and is Güralp’s single biggest market.  In response to “5.12”, the Chinese government announced the establishment of a national Earthquake Early Warning system (EEW) as part of their 13th 5-year development plan – a mega-project that represented a huge opportunity for Güralp…if only they could get their equipment on the EEW “approved list” for the related government tenders.


The Challenge

Güralp needed a new, highly specialised, technical in-China distribution partner to meet the scale of this opportunity, potentially worth tens of millions of pounds.  They needed to get this arrangement fully in place quickly and discreetly, whilst maintaining a full after-sales service.  And all this had to be done in time for the EEW application deadline – a date announced by the Chinese authorities a couple of months later, which put immense pressure on the process.

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We were asked to

  • Identify 30-40 potential distribution partners, according to criteria developed jointly with Güralp

  • Narrow this down to a shortlist, open discussion with them, and produce detailed company background reports for each one

  • Set up and participate in assessment meetings in China, with each shortlisted candidate. 

  • Participate in a second round of meetings with candidates, this time in the UK

  • Deliver translation and interpreting services

  • Investigate and report on historic tender awards from Chinese state-owned entities, relating to seismic equipment procurement

Great result

As a result of this intervention, Güralp successfully negotiated and signed a distribution agreement with Beijing-based seismic specialists BOST, and managed to meet the deadline for the EEW pre-approval testing process.  Existing end-users experienced a smooth transition to the new arrangement, through clear communications in Chinese.  At the time of writing, they have just received their first equipment orders through the new distributor.

Güralp’s chairman Dr Chris Potts said:

”This was a critical project for Güralp and Grandage Consulting provided an excellent service, working against exceptionally tight deadlines to assist us to achieve the project objective.


"They responded quickly and mastered the brief, including understanding the complexities of our products and markets. Grandage Consulting provided close support, researching and documenting candidates, attending planning and assessment sessions on site in the UK, and travelling to China with the Güralp team, to deploy expert language skills and give business advice, which was pivotal in the success of the project.  


"I have no hesitation in recommending Grandage Consulting as an expert advisor for any business operating in China.”


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Guralp and BOST in Beijing