Since July 2017, the two Swiss writing instrument specialists Premec and Prodir have been united under the umbrella of the newly founded Pagani Pens SA that is based in Cadempino.
“We took this step,” confirmed Giorgio Pagani, founder and sole owner of Pagani Pens, “in order to ensure us an optimum organisational structure for our presence on the dynamic and more and more demanding market in order to be able to offer our customers a product and brand portfolio that satisfies the manifold and demanding market requirements.“ As a result, totally new family relationships among the writing instrument specialists have arisen. Luca Ossola, CEO of Prodir and Premec: “It is a vertical integration of both of the companies Prodir and Premec as independent brands under the umbrella of the Pagani Pens SA. We are now so to speak sister companies, previously Premec was the parent company of Prodir.” Today 620 employees work for the Pagani group, around 450 of them in Switzerland.
Premec – Master of Writing
Both companies were founded by the writing instrument pioneer Giorgio Pagani together with his brother Luciano and in the early days the two brothers managed the company together. “I actually ended up in the writing instrument production business more by chance,” grinned Giorgio Pagani. “After passing my degree as a mechanical engineer in Milan, I decided to support my father. At the time he was working as a Technical Director for the company Pointec SA. The first ball pen tips, which were developed and marketed by the company Albe SA, were produced there in an automated process. I worked as an engineering draftsman for the company Albe SA for three years. Then, I didn’t miss the opportunity of accepting a favourable offer for turning machines. In 1961, I founded the firm Premec SA, which produced blanks for ball pen tips and exported them to Germany and Italy.” In the 1960s Lugano became an international centre for automatically produced ball pen tips and the production of refills for ballpoints. Towards the end of the 1970s, Premec took over the global market leadership for ballpoint pens thanks to its clearly structured and consistent corporate policy. Ball pen tips as well as balls and refills were produced. Subsidiaries belonging to the same group are responsible for the mould and tool construction. A modern chemical laboratory controls and analyses the chemical and physical characteristics of the ink and writing systems and collaborates with different university laboratories.
“When we started in 1961,” explained Giorgio Pagani, “our production volume of pen tips was 10 mil. a year. Today, we produce 3 bil. units annually.“ The Asiatic region is the main sales market of the company, which in its capacity as a parts supplier carries the quality seal “Swiss Made” and is renowned for its quality. “We estimate that we hold approx. a 10% share of the global market for our products,” stated Giorgio Pagani. The Swiss company is well-known for the quality of its precision products with good reason. The globally operating manufacturer has quality controls in every phase of the production, which in some cases directly intercede in the work flow to make computer-controlled corrections. The pen tips that are made of brass, nickel silver or stainless steel are produced using fullyautomated machines, which take between 20 and 24 operations to produce the tips from the blanks. The balls that have diameters of between 0.3 and 1.4 mm are also manufactured, inserted and checked in an automated process. Among others, the quality provisions specify that less than one tip in 10,000 is allowed to be without a ball. At the end of the production process the tips are cleaned per ultrasound. The quality controls test among others the writing characteristics of the tips taking the norms that are specified for different types into account. Test reports and production samples from each batch are archived and kept for at least one year. In the refill production department machines mount the small plastic tubes filled with ink onto the tips that are produced on-site, the tubes are then sealed with a silicon cork. Each batch is stamped so that the respective production is clearly identifiable. As with the tips, the documentation of the controls is archived.
Know-how from the start to the finish
After beginning with the production of tips in 1961 and with the refill production in 1990, in 2002 the activities were expanded to include the production of inks and in 2013 the first complete writing instruments were manufactured. Between 1990 and 2000 the company expanded and became an international group with production locations – in addition to the headquarters in Switzerland – in Malaysia and China. Of course the quality seal and promise “Swiss made” also applies for these locations, since all of the quality controls of the Swiss concept are also strictly carried out there. Since all of the parts of the writing instruments are self-produced in-house, one quite justifiably claims the right to use the title “Master of Writing“ after the company name. “The company has three pillars,” underlined Luca Ossola. “We supply the writing instrument industry worldwide with our precisions tips. The writing instruments for the specialised retail trade are the second pillar. The writing instruments for the promotional products market are the third mainstay, which of course we also customise and individualise in-house using all common customising techniques.”
The line-up also includes writing instrument lines such as Chalk or Torsion with a distinctive design and the potential to become cult writing instruments with the quality seal “Swiss made” also for the younger generation. Chalk comes in different executions as a plastic or metal model, an organic version, the Chalk BIO, is also available. Countless colours and finishes are possible, 360° printing as well as a 4c advertising message on the barrel and clip. The pen is embellished using pad or screen printing methods or with a laser engraving. There is a choice between the Gel Super Dry or the Floating Ball® system and different thicknesses as well as between blue or black ink. The Torsion with its significant, ergonomic and functional shape and twelve standard colours is very convincing. It is not surprising that the original writing instrument made of plastic – which is also available with a metal finish – was distinguished with the German Design Award 2018 and with the “Honourable Mention” of the red dot award 2017. Unmistakable: the sophisticated design that is based on the design language of a sports car. The writing instruments are available for a minimum order volume of 3,000 pieces. Fast delivery times are guaranteed.
Complement each other mutually
“Of course, the outcome should not result in a mutual cannibalisation of the product ranges of Premec and Prodir,” emphasised Giorgio Pagani. “On the contrary: We offer best ‘Swiss made’ quality in any case and always at the best priceperformance ratio, both at Premec and Prodir. But the production of the Prodir writing instruments is more elaborate, the tools are more complex and more difficult to handle and care for.” Manfred Dreher, CEO of Prodir Deutschland GmbH, added: “The portfolio of Premec writing instruments allows us to now also satisfy the market segment that doesn’t opt for Prodir pens due to reasons of cost. In the past, those, who were interested in low budget ballpoints, oriented themselves in the direction of Eastern Europe or Asia. Thanks to the Premec portfolio, we can now also offer ‘Swiss made’ writing instruments of aesthetic and functional brilliance and precision in the very price-sensitive segment. Here it is about large volumes for a small price, yet at the same time high and proven quality. But of course there are differences to the Prodir line-up.” For example, at Premec the minimum order quantity is 3,000 pieces, Prodir delivers orders of 500 pieces upwards. Furthermore, the individualising options are more diversified, the writing capacity is larger, the variability in design and the optimisation of the customisations are higher. “Even if there are no basic differences in the workmanship and writing quality, stressed Prodir Sales Director for Switzerland and Austria, Maurizio Peverelli, “the Premec writing instruments are easier to produce and are thus more favourably priced. They complement the portfolio of Prodir and round it off in the more favourablypriced, yet sophisticated segment.”
Prodir – communication is their programme
Prodir was founded in 1981 with the aim of producing writing instruments of unmistakable, unique design and excellent quality using cutting- edge technologies. In 1982, Prodir launched its first own writing instrument onto the market: the fine liner Brio. It was manufactured in collaboration with an Italian partner from the office supply business. The Brio was very successful. “In the following years we also developed the roller, the twist-action ballpoint and the fluorescent pen,” explained Giorgio Pagani, “at the same time we conquered new markets.“ In 1989 the Prodir concept was revised. A year later the DS3 model with the extra wide clip – ideal for advertising messages – was developed especially for promotion purposes. In 1994 the decision was taken to offer all of the Prodir products exclusively on the promotional products market. With the models DS1 and DS3, which subsequently advanced into becoming classics, Prodir became a trendsetter: Modernness in distinctive, concentrate plainness, which emphasises the unity of function and form. The Swiss company places great importance on variability: Whether the casing and/or tip is frosted, transparent, matt or polished – the customer has the choice. The clip, barrel, cap and nose can be combined in different colours, there is a wide range of standard colours. “As such we make it simple for our customers to find a CI-compatible solution,” explained Manfred Dreher. The large elegant advertising surfaces on the barrel and distinctively curved wide clip serve as high-impact promotional platforms. Since 1995 personalised customisations are also possible at Prodir. The high demand for Prodir products led to the expansion of the inhouse, ultra-modern pad and screen printing shop and from 1993 onwards to the foundation of Prodir Deutschland GmbH and further subsidiaries, primarily in European countries.
“Swiss made” quality seal
The high quality that is attested by the “Swiss made” quality seal and the in-house production also contributes towards the company’s success. Cutting-edge injection moulding machines operate around the clock in three shifts. Comprehensive quality controls are carried out in each of the production phases – also during the assembly and customising processes to ensure the “Swiss made” quality seal is justified at all times. Manfred Dreher: “Prodir stands for high quality, demanding design, communication competence and for enjoyment in tireless writing. Our writing instruments enable the respective message of the promoting company to be optimally conveyed, because they are strictly aligned to the target for all of our writing instruments, namely to serve as customer bonding tools, a precise and targeted communication medium. A three-dimensional messenger of the respective promoting company which individually, credibly and authentically unites the message with successful design and optimum functionality and what’s more with the quality seal: Made in Switzerland.“ The writing instruments of Prodir are unmistakable. Because they distinguish themselves through their simple design of immense clarity, which excels because of its pleasant minimalism and uniform lines.
The Swiss writing instrument specialist has succeeded in becoming a brand on the haptic advertising market that continually sets new accents and which has become a trendsetter. This not only applies for the almost legendary DS3, which virtually every renowned company has already implemented as a brand ambassador. The timeless classic is still one of the most frequently chosen haptic communication tools today. The strength of the company lies last but not least in its innovative power, in the constant further development of the possibilities for companies to optimally communicate their CI using Prodir’s writing instruments. Again and again, the company has succeeded in presenting pioneering and revolutionary innovations, for example in the significance and ergonomics of the design of the writing instruments, in the quality of the customising through sophisticated individualising methods and in the introduction of new colours and colour combinations. “It is not without good reason,” confirmed the Marketing Manager, Laura Bazzali, “that our innovations are regular distinguished with famous prizes, including the Promotional Gift Award.“
The designer from the Milan-based Studio C, Christoph Schnug, who has been designing writing instruments for Prodir for years, elaborated: “We haven’t just set trends as far as the design, colours and shapes were concerned. But also in terms of the surfaces – i.e. the frosted DS3 – through the introduction of satinised or polished metal tips and personalisation add-ons, for example in the case of the DS5 and DS4DC. Or the distinctive QS models with their fascinating surface structures, which are reminiscent of the human sense of touch that makes haptic advertising so effective. We continually enhance the ways to optimally convey the CI of the customers. For example, as with the new DS8 Metal Clip. A sophisticated symbiosis between plastic and metal, which is guaranteed to attract the highest possible attention. The DS8 is now also available with a metal nose cone.“ The next stage of this constant evolution is imminent: The focus is on personalisation using structures, surfaces and materials. Schnug: “It is all about an even more improved communication, which addresses all of the senses – initially of course the sense of touch. It is about feeling. Especially in our times, where a lot of things are volatile, digital, not tangible. The answer to hightech is high touch.“ It is going to be exciting to see which solutions Prodir, the Swiss trendsetter among the writing instrument producers, will present in future.
// Michael Scherer
Photos: Michael Scherer (4), © WA Media; Pagani Pens (3)