The specialist Gamax not only produces key pendants and badges, but also the corresponding assembly machines to match. The simple and effective modular system for agencies and promotional products distributors is successful far beyond the Spanish borders and proved to be an effective recipe against the challenges of the crisis.
It is impossible to overhear the fact that items are actually manufactured at the company premises of Gamax: The pounding sound of the heavy punching machines echoes through the building in Cerdanyola des Valles, close to Barcelona. “85% of what we sell is produced here,” explained Xavier Marin, the CEO of Gamax. “We see ourselves as defenders of ‘made in Europe’ products and are carrying on a tradition – albeit with different products.” Namely, in the past, for decades metal and plastic buttons were produced in Cerdanyola des Valles. “Our former company was called Acfor, my father was one of the three owners,” reported Marin. “In 1997, the three shareholders came to the decision to go their separate ways and my business partner Oscar Gali and I, each purchased 50% of the shares.” The two new owners divided up the tasks among themselves – Marin is responsible for the management and sales activities, Gali for the production and design. Under the new company name “Gamax” – an acronym of the names Gali and Marin – the company was launched one year later and operated not only in Spain but also abroad from the very beginning. “This was a great advantage for us later,” commented Marin. “When the crisis began, we had already built up a network abroad over a period of ten years.“
The decision to completely change the alignment of the company also proved to be forwardlooking: “Against the background of increasingly stronger competition from the Far East and the economic climate, we decided to completely move out of the retail button business and concentrate on a different niche market: the promotional products market,” reported Marin. “We are strongly specialised in this market.“ From then on, instead of buttons, the injection moulding machines produced key pendants made of plastic or zinc alloy (Zamac) and the punching machines were modified for the production of badges. A second, new product group was added to the list: Machines to assemble the badges and key pendants. Because Gamax doesn’t just supply the products, but indeed the complete do-it-yourself package.
“Our concept is both simple and logical: The customer buys a corresponding machine that is capable of punching and assembling, together with the blanks for the badges or key pendants,” explained Marin. “He subsequently prints an advertising motif according to the given measurements using a normal colour printer. This can be cut out using the machine and a cutting attachment, before the key pendant or badge is finished using another attachment. Companies that buy our products only need paper and a printer and they can produce their own promotional products – in the smallest volumes, on demand and at low costs. Because the investment for the machine and the blanks is amortised within a short space of time.“ The line-up encompasses around 100 key pendant shapes, many of which are own designs. The corresponding cutting and assembly adapters are available for each type so that the customer only has to purchase one single machine. “The machines are our core business and our USP,” underlined Marin. “Our aim here is to take over a leading position.”
Gamax achieved a turnover of around 4 mil. Euros last year. The majority of the headcount, which currently comprises of 26 employees, work in the production department. Plastic key pendants, attachments for the machines as well as shopping trolley chips are manufactured on the several injection moulding machines, whereby Gamax also produces the tools itself. The zinc die-casting – which in terms of technology is almost identical – is carried out by a partner company, the metal pendants are then deburred and polished in-house. The punching of the components for the badges is also carried out on-site as well as attaching the pendants to the key rings – the latter task is performed by selfdeveloped, highly specialised devices. “We can carry out tasks fully or semi-automatically, which are completely done by manual labour in the Far East,” stated Marin. The production of the machines in the metalworking shop on the other hand requires a lot of manual and precision work. Only a few work steps, such as for example the casting of the solid base are not carried out in-house, most of the other parts are processed and assembled on-site. A graphic department and printing shop enhance the production in Cerdanyola des Valles. “Of course, on request we also supply customised products that are already picked and packed,” said Marin, “furthermore, we also offer diverse, partly individualised packaging options.” In total, 300 palette storage places are available directly on-site and at nearby partner companies for the storage of the raw material. Marin: “High delivery capacities are essential for us – we stock enough raw material for three to four months at all times. We purchase the least amount possible of the latter from the Far East – where possible we try to buy from European manufacturers.”
Gamax is also European in terms of its sales orientation – according to own accounts, the company has an export share of around 50% and supplies to 52 countries worldwide. “Apart from Spain, our most important markets are France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Austria,” said Marin. “Whereas we deliver directly to the promotional products trade in Spain and France, in other countries we work together with one or more representatives. We have had a partner in the USA for two years and are currently building up new business relationships in Latin America.“ A growth that is also reflected internally: “Next year – when we will incidentally be celebrating our 18th birthday and will be ‘of age’ – we are going to expand our team,” announced Marin while underlining at the same time: “Our employees are our most important capital – because they guarantee the continuity of a business model, which is based on products ‘Made in Spain’.”