The Buttonboss Group unites four product groups under one roof: Buttonboss (buttons), King Cap (caps), The Peppermint Company (mints, sweets, snacks and chocolate) and Care Concepts (cosmetics and water). What all segments have in common is high flexibility and a service that is tailormade to suit the needs of the promotional products trade.
“I find it more appealing to take over an existing business and further develop it rather than to build up a new company. I prefer to join a project during the development process rather than start from scratch,” is how Robin Vogel describes the business principle, on the basis of which he has established a dynamic business group over the space of around two decades – the Buttonboss Group. However, Vogel did originally enter the promotional products market by founding a company – indeed from the cradle: “In 1994, I turned self-employed as a promotional products distributor with the company Robitex – I started up the business from home using an old computer and fax machine, which I bought for 2,000 Gulden from an insolvent firm. Robitex still exists today with a new owner, because I sold the company when I moved over to the supplier side.” Namely, in the year 2000, Vogel was given the opportunity to take over one of his supplier partners – the specialist, Buttonboss, which was founded in 1976 by Henk Brusse. “At the time we were the company’s biggest client, our line-up included many other products in addition to buttons. After the take-over, I slimmed down the product range and concentrated on three areas – buttons, caps and embroidery,” stated Vogel. “Furthermore, I re-launched the brand King Cap.” The company not only became one of the leading cap suppliers within a short space of time, but also according to own accounts the largest embroiderer on the Dutch promotional products market.
Portfolio with potential
Buttonboss still stands for buttons and button machines today, above all for caps however. The standard product range encompasses around 180 models, divided up into the brands King Cap and Promocap – the latter offers models for the low budget segment. Buttonboss procures its goods from long-standing partners in China and relies on the greatest amount of transparency possible in the supply chain. The company is an ambassador of the Fair Wear Foundation and member of the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) and Sedex (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) organisations. “We are not the cheapest suppliers,” stated Vogel, “because we offer uncompromising quality, a good fit as well as manifold individualising and design options. We can design totally individualised caps to meet the customer’s requirements for minimum orders of 250 pieces.” The current catalogue lists no less than 40 design options, including applications, embossings, special imprints, metal logos, piping and hologram stickers. The caps are embroidered at the company’s headquarters in Enschede, where modern embroidery robots guarantee that 80% of the orders can be delivered within three days. According to company accounts, Buttonboss earns around one quarter of the group’s turnover – the other segments of the Buttonboss Group account for the rest. In 2008, Vogel took over the firm called The Peppermint Company, the catalogue of which has since increased from eight pages up to 112. In addition to the key product peppermints – manufactured at a company-owned production site following a recipe that is almost 100 years old – The Peppermint Company also offers chocolate, wine gums, a variety of candies as well as hearty snacks, liquorice and biscuits. The packaging is just as diversified as the product line-up ranging far beyond boxes, tins and bags. Finally, the sister company, Care Concepts, which was acquired in 2011, sells cosmetic items, tissue boxes and baby items as well as branded water.
Short routes, high flexibility
The logistics of all of the company areas are coordinated in Enschede, where a warehouse covering 4,000 m² plus further external warehouse space are available. 112 employees work in the sales, administration, customising and handling departments. Thanks to an own offset printing shop nearby as well as the in-house embroidery and digital printing shop, the company carries out a majority of the individualising work itself. For pad prints, Vogel works together with the Xindao daughter company, Printmasters that is based in Romania. The Buttonboss Group also relies on the highest possible flexibility for the picking and packing process – in the sweets area the company fills almost all packets in-house, where a lot of the work is done by hand. “First of all the customer choses the type of packaging, then there is a choice of around 30 different sweets for filling them with. All of this for minimum order quantities of 50 pieces.” Services, which mean the company clearly targets the promotional products trade: “We suppliers have to ask ourselves: Why does the customer need us? In times when the average order value is constantly decreasing, the answer is: For solving problems fast. Anyone, who wants to be successful, can’t say he delivers everything, he has to specialise instead. I act according to the motto: Choose your customer, determine your focus and dominate your market.” A motto that is obviously very successful for Vogel and which the members of his family of companies have successfully further developed.
// Till Barth
photos: Till Barth, © WA Media (1); Buttonboss Group (3)