«I recommend MobiliseSME to any company that wants to expand its market and improve its knowledge»

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Gonzalo Palenzuela is a self-employed specialist in reparation and restoration of pianos and owner of Silentium Piano, who recently participated in the MobiliseSME programme as Sending Company.

Gonzalo came to learn and exchange his experience to a Belgium based company for 3 months. He describes his participation in MobiliseSME as very enriching – thanks to it, as he says, he was able to reach many new potential partners and acquire skills related to his profession.

How did the collaboration with the Host Company go? And why would he recommend the programme to other SMEs as well? Find out the answers in the following interview:

– Tell us a bit about you and your professional path. Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME? 

I am a self-employed worker specialising in the reparation and restoration of grand pianos. I have worked by myself since 1993. I have been trained in several factories and in various piano schools, not only in Europe; and after more than 25 years of professional experience, I have achieved a high degree of specialisation in the field.

I work mainly in the Spanish region of Castilla y León, but also in Madrid. Castilla y León has a low population density, which decreases every day. This means that I had to look for new markets, and this is also one of the reasons why I thought about starting new relationships with important European piano dealers.

On top of that, as I work by myself, I have always desired to exchange knowledge with other professionals and with companies which work with a high number of grand pianos in the second-hand distribution sector.

– From a business point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your company? Would you recommend participating in MobiliseSME? 

I have been able to meet and also collaborate with several dealers in the second-hand pianos distribution sector. Mainly, I have exchanged knowledge and information with my Host Company, but I also got in contact with other important European dealers and have been able to collaborate with them – doing restorations, installing equipment or fine-tuning pianos.

I have reached companies such as Pianos Maene, Pianos Van Innis and Pianos Carlier, all of them based in Belgium.

The experience has been really interesting, and I think that it will allow me to continue the collaboration with those enterprises, which means expanding my activity market.

I recommend participating in MobiliseSME to any company that wants to expand its market and improve its knowledge, and for sure, I would repeat this business experience.

– How did this collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your development? 

Since I am the owner of the sending company (self-employed), the collaboration has contributed not only to the development of my company but also to my development as a worker. 

I have been able to chat with colleagues working in the sector, refreshing my knowledge with new ideas and exchanging information about some of the techniques used in the restoration of pianos.

The collaboration will probably continue in the future, as I have started professional relationships very useful for the second-hand piano dealers I met, and also for me, since I have increased my market reach.

MobiliseSME

– With which knowledge, techniques or information has the seconded person contributed to the Host Company? Which knowledge and skills did the seconded person improve? 

My Host Company was a European piano dealer based in Belgium that needed at least one high-profile professional to fine-tune and restore its grand pianos. I have worked restoring 20 pianos in total, which have been restored in high quality and the market has appreciated the excellent job done.

I have been able to improve my skills in installing silent systems in grand pianos, which requires practice that I have acquired in the Host Company facilities. I have also learnt some techniques used to restore the piano furniture.

– Do you plan to collaborate with the Host Company after this project?

Since we both have finished the joint project with a high degree of satisfaction, we would like to further develop our relationship.

I will probably work for the Host Company (as well as for the others that I have met during my stay in Belgium) as a freelancer for some time during the year. 

– How the COVID restrictions affect your collaboration? How did you manage to coordinate? 

COVID restrictions have affected our collaboration, since our first idea was to collaborate longer in the first period. However, we have been able to adapt the dates to the situation and, fortunately, after the improvement of the situation in both countries and my vaccination, the restrictions were lower, and we could meet our expectations. 

The most difficult was to avoid lock-down during the first part of our participation in MobiliseSME, since vaccines were not still available. Nevertheless, I was allowed to follow a semi-lockdown, being able to go out just to work. Also, the expenses have increased since I have had to take several PCRs to prove I was free of COVID.

– Last but not least, did you improve your knowledge of mobility of workers within the European Union after your participation in MobilisSME? Which role did the information local points in sharing this information? 

Fundación Equipo Humano, my Local Contact Point, has been really kind and helpful. They have provided me all the information about the requirements needed for the mobility of the European workers involved in the project.

Also, they have helped me with all the documentation needed and, in my opinion, their role is of the most importance for the success of the MobiliseSME programme.

Everything has been easy, both for the Sending (me) and for the Host Company. The procedure has been smooth, and they have provided financial support on time and in a very efficient way.