Founded in 1985 under the name Keback, today MEC Gruppen boasts one of the widest product ranges in Scandinavia. Custom-made products are their core business and here they rely on a network of partners in China. In combination with a large selection of stock items, they now offer manifold solutions for the promotional products trade.
Cecilia Grahn Nyd is on a mission. Since after a career in advertising she joined the company as Marketing Manager twelve years ago, which her father Evert Grahn founded in 1985 under the name Keback and which today operates on the Scandinavian market as MEC Gruppen, she has noticed how hard the promotional products trade struggles. “I see distributors who work really hard, but who barely earn any money with their work. In the promotional products industry, the price is nearly always the decisive factor, the focus lies on the margin – not on customer loyalty. There is a lot to gain if we can achieve a position as a communication channel in the buyers’ minds. We want to support the distributor in the best ways possible, letting them focus on their expertise and customer relations.” To this end, MEC Gruppen offers manifold sales support and thanks to decade-long production partnerships in the Far East the possibility to satisfy the customers’ requirements through custom-made designs and thus break away from the price spiral.
The promotional products supplier based in Halmstad has only been operating as MEC Gruppen since 2017, previous to that all of the brands of the company’s subsidiaries were marketed under their own names. “The aim behind changing the company’s name was to achieve a better overview and benefits for the customers,” explained Grahn Nyd. The centrepiece of the conglomerate is the company, Keback, which Evert Grahn founded and is still very actively involved in. Initially the firm offered give-aways, ties, embroidered emblems and later lanyards. When USBs started to become a theme and Grahn wanted to market this product group, he founded the brand Axel & Morin, because USBs didn’t fit into the traditional Keback range. The brands XPO System for exhibition stand solutions, Keller Reflex for reflective safety products, Cupline for cups and NS Promotion for certified items from stock were added to the list. MEC Gruppen also holds the rights for Sweden on Schwarzwolf outdoor products, and is the exclusive partner of the Dutch importer, Giving Europe, “a cooperation that fits the market very well since they are also an entrepreneurial driven and professional company with a strong focus on product certificates and compliance,” stated Grahn Nyd.
Core element: the logistics
40% of the products MEC Gruppen sells today, stem from the line-up of Giving Europe, the rest are own items produced in China in collaboration with around 120 partners, which are mainly custom-made designs. “Hardly any items are bought off the shelf, based on different components the customers select their individually produced goods,” reported Grahn Nyd. The collection of MEC Gruppen comprises of around 74,000 products and executions, which according to own accounts is one of the widest product ranges in the whole of Scandinavia. Since 1994, the Swedish group has maintained its own office in Fuzhou, China, with five employees as well as a warehouse in Shenzhen. The products of Giving Europe are customised in and dispatched from the Netherlands and the newly built large printing facilities in Poland, the own productions from China are sent out to the customers customised ex-factory. “The logistics play the decisive role in our business model. We know that we are not the only company that delivers lanyards and USB sticks. Which is why we have invested in a smoothly functioning logistics and in full-service solutions for distributors and their customers, the entire process takes three weeks from the approval process through to the delivery from the Far East,” explained Grahn Nyd. A small warehouse is additionally available in Halmstad.
Custom-made products and fast deliveries are two of the competences with which MEC Gruppen strives to support the trade on the customer loyalty front. “Nobody has any time today, everything has to happen fast. That’s why we additionally rely on digital support.” Distributors can adopt the web shop of MEC Gruppen as a white label website or integrate the products of the Halmstad-based company into their own shop via an interface. The standard items of the MEC collection are also offered on the Scandinavian market via the sales network, United Profile, which comprises of around 60 suppliers and around 240 distributor shops. “We try to automate the process for standard products, so that our sales staff have more time to deal with the creative orders,” stated Grahn Nyd. The group has 14 employees in Halmstad, every week between one and three mailings on main theme topics are drawn up and provided to the Scandinavian distributors ready for dispatch to their customers. In the meantime, the focus of MEC Gruppen lies on the Scandinavian market. In the past sales partnerships and offices were maintained in many European countries, “today we deliver goods to Europe via our web shop and we rely on direct contacts in on our core market,” explained Grahn Nyd. The company places great importance on the right terminology here: Grahn Nyd doesn’t talk about promotional products, but instead about “product media”. “In my opinion the term expresses much more clearly what it is about: A product becomes a medium for an advertising message, together with a row of other advertising media such as print, online or radio. And the distributor can offer it to his customer correspondingly: As a value-creating marketing measure, not as an item that should cost as little as possible.” For the past six years, Grahn Nyd has been giving seminars at trade shows and conferences throughout Europe about the benefits of product media, both within the industry and end users. “I am glad to see that the concept is spreading quite rapidly. MEC Gruppen strongly believes that the future belongs to the promotional industry.”
// Brit München
photos: Brit München, © WA Media (2); MEC Gruppen (2)