Viva Plus is not only one of Poland’s largest suppliers of promotional pens, but also a global player. The company recently moved into a new building which accommodates a warehouse, the production, sales and administration departments under one roof.
“We aligned our company for the export business right from the start,” reported Zbigniew Andrew Kowalczyk, who founded Viva Plus together with his wife Joanna in 1996. Today, the Silesian company and its brand Viva Pens is not only the, according to own accounts, largest supplier of promotional pens in Poland, but also a global player: Viva Plus supplies customers in 40 countries, the export accounts for approx. 65% of their turnover. “Our sales team is divided up into two groups: Six employees deal with the Polish customers and six serve our trading partners abroad,” explained Dagmara Bogatzka, Sales Manager for Germany. The company is a familiar exhibitor at many trade fairs, including first and foremost the PSI Show. For its debut presence in Düsseldorf, Viva Plus had booked a stand measuring 9 m², in the meantime the stand extends over 100 m² of floor space.
The company’s international activities are impressively visualised by a world map in the foyer of the brand-new company premises in Bytom, Silesia, which is dotted with flags in the countries the firm operates in. The 2,500 m² new building, which the company moved into at the beginning of March, accommodates a warehouse, the production, sales and administration departments under one roof and is not only tailor-made to meet the needs of the owner, but also completely styled to match the company’s Corporate Design: The corporate colours orange and grey are implemented in all of the departments and even the steel trusses in the warehouse and the polo shirts of the skilled production workers are colour coordinated to match.
The machinery implemented is state-of-theart: Six Battenfeld injection moulding machines that are fed with the plastic granulate in a fully automatic process manufacture according to company information, around 1 million ballpoint pens a month. In the downstream customising department, around 2.5 million writing instruments are individualised per pad print or per laser engraving a month.
Import as second pillar
“Initially after our company was founded we exclusively imported goods, but within one year we started to manufacture products ourselves,” explained Joanna Kowalczyk. The import business remains to be a second pillar, around half of the product range originates from China, including metal writing instruments, which are sold under the brand name “Prestige Collection”, individual parts made of metal as well as lowbudget models.
Viva Plus has quite consciously positioned itself in the favourably-priced segment, as Joanna Kowalczyk explained: “Our customers buy large volumes and often place follow-up orders – that is part of our corporate philosophy. Quality does however have top priority, which is why we have the injection moulds manufactured in Poland also for our import goods and then have them shipped to the Far East. Furthermore, we travelto China once or twice a year so that we can check the current state of affairs and we work exclusively with long-standing partners – most of which are family-run businesses like ourselves.“
On average three novelties are added to the Viva Pens family every year. “Because a new tool costs between 70,000 and 100,000 Euros, new products always involve high investments,”reported Zbigniew Andrew Kowalczyk. “This is why we have all new models patented, not only here in Europe, but also in China. Of course, this also entails further costs, but it certainly pays off. In any case, the number of plagiarists has declined – an important success in a market, where tough competition prevails.“
High delivery performance
Both the models from China and the Polish-made products are stored in Bytom. Between 8 and 13 mil. imported ballpoint pens and plastic parts diecast in Poland for in total approx. 19 mil. writing instruments are constantly available from stock – which guarantees fast delivery.
“Officially our lead-times are between two and three weeks after print approval, however we nearly always manage to deliver earlier,” reported Bogatzka. “We also offer an express service in urgent cases: For a surcharge of 20% on top of the printing costs, we guarantee delivery within four days after the print approval – excluding the shipping time.“
A competence that the company wants to extend further: “We are just about to purchase a second piece of land measuring 4,000 m², on which we are going to build another warehouse,” announced Joanna Kowalczyk.
A direct inquiry system for the company’s website, which currently only contains an online gallery, is also planned for the near future. “We have around 6,000 clicks on our website every month – and it is time we started picking up the customers here,” commented Bogatzka. “This is also an important step with a view to the export business.“ Zbigniew Andrew Kowalczyk is fully aware that suppliers and customers all over Europe are not just getting closer together via the World Wide Web: “The markets will continue to merge. The fear of contacting strangers that used to exist in the past has long since disappeared. The origin of the supplier no longer plays a role on today’s European promotional products market .“
A detailed report about the Polish promotional products market can be found here: