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Wichita area’s volunteer rainmaker heads to Germany to woo business

Wichita area’s volunteer rainmaker heads to Germany to woo business

By John Stearns
Wichita Business Journal

Stan Brodhagen is making his latest trip to Germany this weekend to make high-level connections and build relationships that he hopes lead to new business or companies for the Wichita metro area.

Brodhagen, whose connections run deep in Germany, volunteers his economic-development efforts. He spent 40 years in real estate, banking and business development in Newton and now works part-time in business development for Union State Bank in Wichita. He has personal and business relationships with economic development groups in Germany, is a board member of the German American Heritage Foundation and Museum in Washington, D.C., and is a member of the German American Business Council there.

Brodhagen next week will attend the eighth annual Composites Europe trade show, an exhibition in Stuttgart for the composite materials industry. He was invited on the trip by German economic development officials, who are introducing him to key business leaders and also benefiting from Brodhagen’s contacts.

“I’m going to meet a whole bunch of composite people,” Brodhagen says. “There will be a lot of aircraft-related companies there, too.”

While composites will be his main focus, Brodhagen has meetings with other industry leaders as well, including an executive of Wuerth Group and representative of AmCham Germany, which has 3,000 members in Germany and supports business between Germany and the U.S.

Brodhagen says a number of German companies are interested in expanding in the U.S. but haven’t decided where. He wants to put Wichita and Kansas on more of their radar screens.

“When we’ve had them over here … they’re surprised because of the technology we have in Wichita,” he says.

Marlin Penner, president of John T. Arnold Commercial Real Estate, has been on two trips to Germany with Brodhagen and has given Brodhagen information to present to officials he meets there next week. The Harvey County Economic Development Council, which has made European connections through Brodhagen, has also given him information to take.

“He has meetings … with companies that even the German economic development people have a hard time getting into,” Penner says.

John Stearns covers real estate, development and banking.