Within just under four decades Langhoff Promotion has developed into a full-service trading agency with an international clientele – and has continually reinvented itself over the years in order to be able to continue playing in the top league of the market.
In 1979, Peer Langhoff founded the company Langhoff Promotion in Vejle, Southern Denmark, where the company’s headquarters is located to this very day. Today, the son of the founder, Sören Langhoff, who joined Langhoff Promotion in 1990 is responsible for directing the fate of the company, together with Erik Jul Nielsen, who in his capacity as CEO has been part of the company’s management since 2015. “We consider our most important task to be perceiving current developments and changes at an early stage and adapting our business accordingly. This is the only way we can be independent from economic fluctuations and make sure that we still exist in 20 years’ time,” is how Nielsen outlined the management philosophy at Langhoff Promotion. Since Sören Langhoff rejoined the family business after holding several positions in multi-national groups, this includes above all a consistent alignment on the international market. With a view to its operating strategy, Langhoff Promotion also already placed its bets on digital processes and tools, investments in the IT infrastructure at the beginning of the millennium and this has remained to be a significant item on the budget to the present day. “
I already worked at Langhoff Promotion from 1993 to 1998 before my return in 2015 and have witnessed how Sören Langhoff has made an international trading company with a wide portfolio out of the firm,” recalled Nielsen. Two promotional products industry networks were the key to it all back then: On the one hand the European catalogue alliance, Eurimage, on the other hand the worldwide-operating distributor group Ippag (International Partnership for Premiums and Gifts). Thanks to the Eurimage and the direct marketing via the joint catalogue, synergies were generated in the customer address and through Ippag and the intensive exchange between the affiliated distributors, synergies were achieved in the product development and procurement in the Far East as well as with a view to serving multinational customers.” Our involvement with Ippag has up until this very day been the main pillar for our company’s success,” stated Nielsen. Success that can by no means be taken for granted despite all forward-looking corporate management strategies. “At the beginning of the millennium Langhoff had some very big customers, which the agency made a really good turnover with and which brought the company a great deal of experience in the international business too. However, at some stage we noticed that in spite of the high turnover, not enough money was being earned,” commented. Sören Langhoff got his old companion back on board and together they analysed the situation.
“Langhoff Promotion benefited from its high recognition level in Denmark for many years. However, gradually a decision-making generation evolved within the industry companies that didn’t automatically know us. In the competition against all the other companies, we realised that with a view to the cardinal values, there was hardly any difference between the suppliers of the promotional products trade anymore: Price, delivery reliability and quality. We were good in these points too – but we wanted to have a distinctive feature. The result was that we identified two areas where we stand out from the others: Internationality in the sense of understanding for the way of thinking and the needs of companies from other countries and cultures, and – for us the central issue – the theme compliance. For us this is where the future lies.” A survey among the suppliers which Langhoff had collaborated with so far showed that only half of them were prepared to or were in a position to supply certified promotional products. The same question posed to the OMX Copenhagen 20 companies (the “DAX” of the Danish stock exchange) resulted in a similar answer: Around half of them found the theme highly relevant, the other half had according to Nielsen not occupied themselves with the issue to-date. “That showed us that we were on the right track: There was obviously a gap in the market here. In the meantime we almost exclusively work with the products of Concept and Xindao for our standard line-up, because their entire product ranges are certified.”
However, Langhoff’s main strength does not lie in selling standard products, but instead in creating products: 70% of the order volumes are meanwhile custom-made designs (before the realignment the share was around 40%) – and here the Danish company has been using the intense collaboration with Ippag for decades to further develop the theme compliance as a USP. “The Ippag members have drawn up contracts with over 100 audited manufacturers in the Far East – it is almost impossible for an individual distributor to establish such a network. Langhoff Promotion doesn’t see itself as a do-gooder by taking this approach. “We can’t save the world with product safety, CSR and transparency. But our customers should know that they are on the safe side when they purchase goods from us,” stated Nielsen. Exemplary collections, which have been designed for Danish and international customers, are exhibited at the Langhoff headquarters in Vejle. Goods of daily use with special features for pharmaceutical firms, merchandising collections for non-profit making organisations or custom-made designs for trade promotions: Customers worldwide rely on the experience of the agency in the field of product development. Langhoff Promotion employs 16 people at the Danish locations in Vejle and Lyngsby, a further 16 at its subsidiaries Langhoff Promotion Philippines Inc. and Langhoff Promotion Thailand Co. Ltd. The realignment of the company into compliance specialists has been ongoing since the spring of 2016 and according to Nielsen it is still in full swing: “We want to have completely occupied this position on the Danish market within three to four years.”
// Brit München
photos: Brit München, © WA Media (1); Langhoff Promotion (3)