• Staedtler's Paul Cashmore.
    Staedtler's Paul Cashmore.

Paul Cashmore joined the company as an accountant in 1986, moving up to finance director in the later 1990s and then to managing director in 2010.

He told Stationery News that his decision to resign was “entirely amicable' and he would assist the German head office with the recruitment of a replacement.

STATIONERY NEWS:  How different is Staedtler today compared to the company you joined more than 30 years ago. What have been among the main changes you have experienced in the office products arena over that time and what do you regard as the main challenges for suppliers and dealers over the next few years?

PAUL CASHMORE: Back in the mid 1980’s when I joined Staedtler, the company was known largely in Australia for its core product range (pens, pencils, markers and erasers) and also for our technical product range.

Our technical products are, of course, still popular with architects, draftspeople and designers.  The design process still happens and Staedtler products are still part of this process, however it would be naïve to think that technology hasn’t impacted us in this arena.

Nevertheless, over this 30-year period, sales volumes of our core product ranges have continued to increase, wood-cased pencils in particular, in spite of the “doomsayers” who said to me when I joined the company that pencils and pens were products that would go the way of the dinosaur due to advances in computers.

One thing I’m proud of over such a long period is the relatively minimal turnover of staff we have had, that is testament to Staedtler as a company.

The 1990’s saw a shift away from known brands to an emphasis on “cheapest is best”, however, the consumer has shifted back to a desire for quality products.

And with the introduction of new manufacturing innovations, that reflect the company’s mindfulness of the environment, our young creatives, hobby artists and professionals nowadays are keen to work with product technologies such as pencils made from WOPEX material.

Furthermore our audiences and our innovations have expanded in conjunction with the evolving digital world and Staedtler is conscious of ensuring we bridge the analogue and digital worlds.

In particular, the education arena continues to see rapid change – whiteboards and markers, stylus pencils, shift from OHP markers/chalkboards/chalk to whiteboard markers and stylus products.

This ever-changing rapid transformation of both the 21st century office and classroom is perhaps the greatest challenge facing suppliers and dealers in the years ahead.

STN: What impact did closure of the Australian manufacturing plant in 2009 have on the local operation, in terms of product range and logistics?

PC: We were the last business still manufacturing ball pens and pencils in Australia and it was a decision largely based on the need to improve economies of scale on a global basis while at the same time rationalise our logistics processes.

Pleasingly, the impact on our product range in Australia was minimal and the transition in our customers’ eyes seamless, with the majority of products still being manufactured in Germany.  

Packaging units of measure interestingly proved more of a challenge for our business internally. Two of our key product ranges (wood-cased pencils and ballpoint pens) having their packaging, and hence sales units, altered to fit in with global production requirements.

STN: Staedtler has a strong presence in key channels - what's been the growth trend in relation to office products dealers, mass retailers, contract players and the arts/craft/toys sector?

PC: Challenges have arisen in the way businesses and the market has consolidated. Customers in the past tended to be smaller, family-run, independently-owned commercial stationers – over time those business have been sold, or purchased by global players.  The market is now dominated by dealer global companies, and consumers have become more savvy.

Superstores, that are ‘destinations’ for complete stationery and writing instruments, are now offering more choice than ever before with consumers able to purchase all their needs under the one roof.

STN: What plans does the company have in terms of consumer and trade promotions for the remainder of 2015?

PC: Staedtler will continue to strengthen and support the Staedtler brand in the local market throughout 2015 and beyond with ongoing consumer and trade promotions.