Sweetware has made a name for itself in the promotional products industry as a long-standing partner of well-known confectionery and snack manufacturers. In addition to the comprehensive assortment, the core competences of the company that was founded in 1998 include manifold customising options and a focus on service.
“Favourably-priced, fast and individual“ – that is Sweetware’s motto. A maxim that the specialist for sweet and savoury promotional ideas lives up to thanks to a well-versed team comprising of 54 staff members, short routes and a flexible printing shop. Flexibility and speed are attributes that have distinguished the company from the very start. Today, the firm supplies promotional products distributors and advertising agencies all over Europe. The company founder and Executive Director Werner Thoma took the step of turning self-employed in 1998. Together with initially just one employee and working out of small premises, he offered a wide selection of customisable promotional products. When he received particularly high-volume or urgent orders, Thoma even operated the printing machines himself in the early days. The company still profits from the technical know-how that the company founder acquired back then. “High investments are required so specialised knowledge is essential in order to make the right decisions,” commented Sandor Kiss, who after working for Sweetware for seven years became a co-Executive Director at the beginning of 2014.
Shortly after founding the company, Thoma also made the right decision in 1999 when he opted to specialise in sweet, sour and salty products, entering a cooperation with the traditional brand Haribo. Thoma: “At the time Haribo was looking for a simple, but effective way of entering the niche market for promotional products and I was looking for a renowned producer of high-quality fruit gums. Over the years a close cooperation and partnership has developed, which is still ongoing today.“
Subsequently, this classic win-win situation significantly contributed to the continual growth of Sweetware. In 2004, it became necessary to move to larger premises. The management, sales and graphic design departments are located under one roof together with the filling, printing and dispatch departments. A new building was added to the in-house printing shop in 2008 after the subsidiary Digitaldruck Achkarren GmbH was founded to enable the expansion of the core competences in the customising field. A new branch was opened two years later, which accommodates the fresh produce warehouse as well as the advent calendar and confectionery production – including the thermoforming machine, which is used to produce special forms. The fact that Sweetware relies on own productions for customising chocolate is due to the fact that the company founder Thoma is actually a baker and confectioner by profession and after receiving several requests from customers he decided to expand the value chain in this area. The offer ranges from classic bars of chocolate with motif prints, to specially produced hollow figures, through to noble filled chocolates.
High brand awareness
In addition to own-made chocolate, fruit gums by Haribo and chews of the Haribo brand Maoam, further brands from the consumer sector round off the product range of Sweetware, including Bahlsen/Leibniz, Callebaut, Jelly Belly, PEZ, Sadex, ültje and Vivil. “Snacks and sweets always go down well, so they make ideal advertising messengers,” explained the Sales Director, Markus Herr. “Many of the decision-makers in the marketing departments associate personal childhood memories with the brands we offer. They know that they are also well-suited to the majority of their target group and they make use of this emotional connection.“ Kiss added: “Brand name companies like to advertise their products using brands that enjoy high recognition and which stand for top quality and workmanship. Because the values that the branded promotional products stand for are in turn associated with the promoting company.“
These strict quality standards are upheld by Sweetware: The HACCP guidelines (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) in the food sector are firmly integrated into the workflows and the confectionery specialist is DIN-ISO 9001 (quality management) and DIN-ISO 14001 (environmental management) certified. “That is matter of course for us, after all not only the promotional products distributors and their customers place their trust in us, but also the brand manufacturers, whose goods we work with on a day to day basis,” stated Kiss. “In addition to this the consumers show a much greater awareness for foodstuffs today compared to ten years ago,” added Herr. Hence, Sweetware offers sugar-free fruit gums and gelatine- free bio jelly babies of two manufacturers, whose goods are produced in Europe.
Haribo products still make up around 80% of the day-to-day business. As well as the offer of products available on the retail market, Haribo’s assortment also includes fruit gums customised to meet the special needs of promoting companies. Hearts, airplanes, cars or houses in mini format are among the popular orders. On request, Sweetware commissions the production of special shapes such as company logos or slogans, which can be produced within around four weeks.
The production area spans 2,800 m² and comprises of the filling and printing departments. The wide variety of packaging options offered – from little packets and cardboard packaging, to glasses and tins, through to individual plastic dispensers – goes hand in hand with the implementation of diverse printing techniques, whereby the company’s core competence lies in flexo, pad and digital printing. The different printing methods allow high flexibility and enable all of the customers’ wishes to be fulfilled fast. Among others, the company owns a 6-colour and an 8-colour flexographic printing press.
For the past two years, Sweetware has been customising products per foil lamination. The imprinted transparent foil is either stuck to a non-printed coloured or transparent foil or the imprinted coloured foil is reinforced with a plain transparent foil. Herr: “Before the recipient actually gets to enjoy the taste of the contents, their attention is focused on the appearance and haptic feel of our promotional packaging. That is why we use quality-enhancing double film at no extra cost. This service is put to popular use apart from for rush orders.“
The production department works hand in hand with the sales and order processing departments and there is a high degree of flexibility and service orientation in all areas of the company: “Our customers also profit from this when sample deliveries and print approvals and special orders are processed and coordinated with the production department within extremely short lead-times,“ Kiss explained. The fact that all links of the Sweetware chain interlock perfectly, also has a lot to do with the work climate of the company that is firmly anchored in the region, as Herr explained: “A majority of the employees have been working for the company for many years and they come from the area – including the seasonal workers, who are hired for the busy periods. The high identification with the company that arises as a result has a positive effect on the teamwork.“
In this way, Sweetware proves once again that it is not only the brand alone, but indeed the overall package that counts, when it comes down to promoting companies making a lasting impression.