Penline's promo promise
Penline Mon Ami's Daniel and Maryo Derofe (right).
Penline Mon Ami is wholly Australian-owned and was founded by Maryo Derofe in 1980, offering a solitary pen as his first product.
Penline has since diversified and grown by forging strong relationships with retailers, stationers and promotional companies, becoming one of Australia’s largest suppliers of stationery, corporate gifts and overprinted promotional products.
Since 2001, Penline has been exclusively contracted to supply the Australian promotional industry with internationally-renowned brands Parker and Waterman and has been the exclusive supplier of Mon Ami, the largest stationery manufacturer in Korea, for nearly 30 years.
Penline is also a major stationery and retail goods supplier to Australia Post and larger retailers.
With a product range that is forever changing through eye-catching designs and new technology, an in-house printing, decorating artwork facility, Penline is committed to the continuous development of innovative products and services that reflect the ever changing needs of its clients.
STATIONERY NEWS: What are company's main business units and management structure?
MARYO DEROFE: Penline Mon Ami is a family business. I remain the managing director and both my son Daniel and my son-in-law Darren Gallant play integral roles within the business.
Daniel oversees the production of all aspects of the promotional business while Darren takes care of product sourcing and development, marketing and new project development.
Beyond that we work closely together and maintain an overview of all aspects of the business including the office stationery, supermarket stationery and promotional business and Australia Post retail.
In recent years, and in an environment where the pressure has been on our supermarket stationery business, our promotional business has really gone from strength-to-strength.
Today GLOBALCATALOGUE is without a doubt one of the most successful players in this category.
STN: The promotional products industry has developed significantly since the company's foundation in 1980 - has there been much research into the effectiveness of promotional products at the corporate level?
MD: I think the proof is in the pudding. The promotional business has grown significantly since the early days to the point that in Australia it is a $1.5 to $2 billion dollar a year industry between Australia and New Zealand.
Why? Because it is an incredibly cost-effective way to get your brand out there and into the minds and hearts of the consumer. A well-chosen promotional product has the potential to provide a powerful return-on-investment for the brand owner. A simple example is the humble printed promotional pen or ceramic mug; often identified by the logo as “my favourite pen” or “my favourite cup” in the office. Of course, the options available today are enormous but the principle remains the same.
STN: Your warehouse is fully-stocked with an endless array of products - presumably this is to service the stock needs of local clients and a growing number of overseas customers?
MD: Our warehouse is over 3000 square metres with five pallet bays high. So yes, we carry a lot of stock.
With the largest range of promotional pens in the industry and a growing range of promotional gift products all carried in stock, we need that kind of space.
How many exactly ? It would be in the thousands if counting all of the variations. We see carrying stock as an essential part of this business; customers don’t want to wait three months for an order to come in from Asia.
Sometimes they want it tomorrow and we have the luxury of being able to offer just that.
It’s not an easy business model as the costs are extremely high, but we have years of experience behind us both good and bad and so we know how to manage it. Most of our business is within Australia although we do service customers in New Zealand also and we are servicing a growing international market through our distributors selling to the US, Europe and even the Caribbean.
STN: While many of the large contract office products suppliers are doing good business with promotional products, apparently this is not the case with some dealer groups. What opportunities exist for dealer groups to capitalise on promotional products through their established customer bases?
MD: This really is a veritable gold mine for office products dealers. Office supply companies by their very definition are already working closely with corporate organisations and small business enterprises and, as such, are already trusted business partners/ suppliers to these organisations.
Promotional products are something today that every business needs; office companies need only join the dots to take part in this booming sector. The combination of our industry experience together with the opportunities before the office supply companies is a powerful combination and yes some office suppliers have seen the potential and have been very successful!
STN: Some people equate promotional products with 'low quality' items but this is not the case with Penline Mon Ami's approach to its product offering - correct?
MD: Yes very true, we have noticed a significant shift in the market towards a higher quality product over the past few years as brands start to recognise 1) the importance of the longevity of the product – increasing the ROI on their campaigns and 2) that if they are going to put their brand on something, it must reflect their own commitment to quality products and services.
So it's no mystery that brands like our Parker and Waterman pens, with whom we have been working exclusively since 2001, and Shelta Umbrellas, are increasing their market share.
Similarly our TGA-approved, Australian-made OUTDOORPlus Sunscreen has been incredibly successful, no doubt because of the quality and peace of mind that the Australian-made brand provides.
STN: The ability to handle production in-house, provide large quantities of promotional products at short notice, and strict quality control are the key foundations of your business - what qualities are you looking for in the customers you deal with?
MD: We enjoy building strong relationships with our customer base which is very broad and varied in its make-up.
We have been working with office companies for more than 36 years and would really like to see an even greater take up of the promotional category amongst this sector particularly.
The potential for the promotional category to become a significant part of their overall business is great and to be a part of realising that potential is an exciting proposition for us.