The family business Lensen Toppoint was founded in 1928 and is being run in the third generation in the meantime – in spite of its long tradition the company is not afraid to embrace change. The company director, Bas Lensen, has been reorganising the structure from top-down to bottom-up over the past months to make Toppoint fit for the future.
“If one wants to retain good young employees in one’s company, one has to run it in a way that is attractive for the younger generation,” is how Bas Lensen summed up his reasons for changing the management style at Toppoint almost a year ago. “The people that are pushing their way into the business today, have often collected diverse experiences in spite of their young years, have spent time abroad, know what they want and can work very independently. One doesn’t have to and shouldn’t dictate to them what they have to do – they want to take on responsibility themselves.” Based on this cognition, Lensen, who is running the Dutch promotional products company in the third generation, has realigned the structures of the organisation from “top-down” to “bottom-up” – starting from the management, which has been strongly rejuvenated by incorporating employees, who were previously at junior manager level. “That was the right decision. The increased independence of our employees will strengthen the foundation of our company.”
Ron Willems is one of these upcoming generations: He has been responsible for the theme CSR at Toppoint for almost three years. The 24-year-old is thus in charge of a key element of the company: “100% of our products are tested and certified, the corresponding documentation is never older than three years. In spite of claims to the contrary, many companies on the market aren’t anywhere near as thorough – we test everything,” stated Lensen. Willems is responsible for the different tests and documentation: “Foodstuffs, electronic items, toys, cosmetics, they all have their own guidelines and testing processes. We not only have the goods tested in Asia, but also actively in Europe. We don’t rely on the documents our manufacturers provide us with alone,” explained Willems. Toppoint also tests the sustainability of its products: Around 85% to 90% are according to Lensen tested to make sure they comply with social standards, sustainable production conditions, etc. Hereby the company orientates itself on the guidelines and the conduct code of the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative): The New Wave Group, which Toppoint has belonged to since 2002, is a member of the BSCI and thus sets the framework. “Our internal processes were totally revised over the last years too, the entire company is involved in the theme certification,” said Lensen.
Top goal: Reliability
Toppoint rates itself to be under the top three in the industry in the field of certifications – another area that a lot of work has been invested into since last year is the theme of reliability. “We established that only 80% of our orders were delivered punctually. And since we were nominated for the award of the Dutch association, PPP, as Supplier of the Year, but didn’t win it, we noticed from the evaluation that although we received good marks in the service area, we didn’t do as well in the reliability category. We have worked hard on this, in the meantime 93% of our deliveries are on time. We have been able to reduce the amount of complaints by 25%.” Toppoint offers a wide assortment of promotional products – with the exception of textiles nearly all product areas are covered. Particularly drinkware such as cups, thermal cups or sport bottles are currently very popular, electronic items are also still bestsellers. 99% of the goods are customised when they leave the warehouse, depending on the product it takes six to ten days from the order approval to the delivery. “Our goal is to reduce the delivery period down to three or four days, but that is at the moment still a future vision,” reported Lensen. Own designs are one of the Dutch company’s particular strengths – 35% to 40% of the items are exclusively available from Toppoint – as well as the customising. According to own accounts, Lensen invests around 1 mil. Euros annually in the purchase or retrofitting of already existing machines. Screen printing, pad printing, laser engraving, transfer printing, digital printing, domings, UV high gloss, sublimation printing, foil printing, embossing and imprints using ceramic dyes – everything is possible. A further asset: 20% to 25% of the Toppoint products are manufactured in Europe, for example the German injection-moulding manufacturer, GS Plastics, where among others ballpoint pens are produced, belongs to the company. The promotional products trade has the opportunity at all times to check the products and their availability and see how they are certified via Toppoint’s Extranet. Orders are also placed via this channel, Toppoint makes around 75% of its turnover, which totals 35 mil. Euros (2016), online. Toppoint no longer belongs to the “Shop- Express“ cooperation that it participated in for several years together with other suppliers. In order to further reinforce the online sector and intensify the cooperation with Internet distributors, Lensen is currently establishing an own post for this purpose, which is yet to be occupied. A further chance for the young digital-savvy generation.
Relocation to Hengelo in 2018
Toppoint is planning an additional step to make the company more attractive for younger employees: In 2018, the staff based at the rather rural location in Bergentheim are to be relocated to larger offices that are very close to Hengelo. The warehouse and the customising department will remain at the headquarters in Bergentheim – whereby here a large majority already have moved to the Toppoint location in Poland over the last three years: 70% to 80% of the goods are stocked in Poland, 90% of the customising takes place there. In the meantime, Toppoint employs 180 people in Poland and 70 in the Netherlands – three years ago this was exactly the opposite way round. The traditional company obviously doesn’t shy changes: “We don’t take to our heels, when things aren’t running smoothly. We stay put and solve the problems – also gladly together with our customers.”
// Brit München
photos: Brit München, © WA Media (2); Toppoint (2)