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World Domination, One Step at a Time

Set your sights high and look for continual improvement, and who knows where you can take your business, says Neil Horner, divisional head, Laltex Promo

In boardrooms across the world there are countless discussions about how to improve your business, take the company to the next level or in the case of Laltex, how to achieve world domination. (I am serious, there is a sign in our boardroom asking this very question!)

Well after years of trying I’ve realised that unless you stumble across the secret ingredients to Coca-Cola, the unfortunate reality is that there is no silver bullet. So how can us mere mortals grow and improve our businesses?

When I started at Laltex, we took for granted the great things we could off er. We were young and thought our enthusiasm, hard work and great prices would be the key to our success. It turned out that world domination was a lot harder than we thought. However,
15 years later we have four established brands in the group, namely Laltex Promo, Pencom, Bags HQ and Source it. While we haven’t hit the dizzy heights of Google or Amazon, I hope we are now considered more of a serious player in the industry.

So what has changed? The reality is we’ve played to our strengths and tried to improve upon them.

We still operate from our 220,000 square foot facility which allows us to off er unrivalled stock holding. Investment in ERP systems allow us to move stock quickly, plain stock in 24 hours or printed stock in two to five days.

The product range has always been vast. Our second catalogue back in 2002 had more than 270 product lines – nothing is ever started here in a small way. Fast forward to today and we produce five separate catalogues encompassing more than 700 different items with a wide choice of colour variations. Colour is really important to us – we’ve learnt that companies do not want to compromise with their branding and they want a product in the right colour. As such, we have a number of product lines with more than 10 colour options.

Although we started as a generalist, in recent years we’ve become specialists in our fields and in doing so improved our product knowledge within individual teams. An example of this is Andrew Williams heading up Pencom. They don’t call him the Pen Guru for nothing!

Customer service was one of the founding principles of the promo divisions and in the early days Sanjay regularly asked – insisted, in fact – that I had to walk to the post office to drop off any samples that had missed the cut off. That commitment hasn’t changed over the
years, but the improvements in our systems have meant that quotations, samples and information are available quicker than ever before.

So how are we going to dominate the world in years to come? Our view is speed is going to play an ever increasing factor and we are going to do our best to embrace this. The millennial generation are our future customers and they cannot understand why printing a promotional gift should take days when they can download a song in seconds, or order a dress online for delivery that same day.

My final words of advice? Well I’m only 21 so what do I know, but if pushed for an answer I would say look within, see what you’re good at, and make it better, and just when you think you’ve got it perfect, rub your eyes and look again as you’ll always find something you can improve upon.

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