One of the great aspects of this stationery hobby is meeting people from all over the world. Most of these relationships start online and many can flourish in person. I am not a big traveler so I’m a little surprised sometimes when someone from another country finds my little spot on the internet here at MPNI. One such relationship I have enjoyed is with Kaweco Pen’s Sebastian Gutberlet. Sebastian and team have been great supporters of My Pen Needs Ink and of course they put out some great products in the industry. Probably most known for their SPORT line of pens. Recently Sebastian was kind enough to give us a little more insight into his role as a valuable contributor to the pen community. I hope you will sit back, refill your beverage of choice and enjoy this short journey to getting to know Sebastian a little better.
MPNI: Tell us a little about the Kaweco team that many of us know through the online communities. We know you, Michael and Ingrid so tell us a little about your roles and how is the company structured?
SG: My father Michael, the CEO, Ingrid and I are only a small part of the Kaweco Team. In the office we have 7 people. In the production area we have around 20 people depending on the order volume. I am responsible for Marketing and Sales. Ingrid is one of our sales ladies and mostly takes care of our orders. Additionally she is our treasury secretary. We see the Kaweco company really as a team. Most decisions are made in the weekly team meeting via poll.
MPNI: Tell us about the history. We know some of your pen designs have been around since the 1930’s. When did Kaweco start?
SG: Kaweco started already in 1883 as the “Heidelberger dip pen factory”. About ten years later a of couple gentlemen named Koch and Weber bought the company. That was when the name Kaweco was born. The first two letters of the owners’ names and the addition company formed the “Kaweco” name. Normally it would be “Koweco” but they decided that Kaweco sounded better.
MPNI: When did you know you had a successful pen business on your hands?
SG: I was not in the company yet ( I was 9 ) when my father started to revive Kaweco in 1992. Kaweco had not been producing anything for 10 years in 1992. It was not the main business at that time. Gutberlet was selling pen parts and cosmetics for other brands. This business was really good so it was just for fun for my father because he was, and still is, a pen collector. Not only for Kaweco but also for all pen brands. Kaweco was growing step by step and my father says he realized that he had found a treasure when he made a lecture about luxury brand strategy at Staedtler a short time before they launched their premium line. He realized while preparing the lecture that the Kaweco Sport Design is outstanding like the Coca Cola bottle and the Porsche 911.
MPNI: You’re quite active, and very supportive, of the pen community. I treasure your sponsorship of MPNI. How has social media moved you or changed you as a company?
SG: The margin in the pen business is not as high as other branches. We can not compete with the marketing power of a fashion or cosmetic brand for example. Additionally we are a very small company, even in the pen business. The idea to support the bloggers and even to make our own facebook page was very late compared with other brands. There were a lot of people writing about Kaweco before and writing that they liked our products so much. When we realized that this effects our sales in a positive way we decided to do more in that direction. So far this year we have also created an Instagram account and Twitter in addition to the Facebook account. At that point I want to also say “THANK YOU” to all the bloggers and press people who support Kaweco and all the people which take their time to write about the brand.
MPNI: I’m seeing some activity with your new site, http://mostwanted-pens.com. Can you tell us about your plans and goals for that venture?
SG: The website has been online since January. There are several reasons why I founded the company. The first is that there was no retailer worldwide which sells really the complete program including all accessories and gadgets. Also the nib selection is very good. The customer can choose which nib he wants and doesn’t have to buy a pen with a steel nib and then pay extra to add a carbon black nib for example.
Another reason is that I also wanted to create something of my own. My grandfather founded the Gutberlet GmbH, my father revived Kaweco and I have now started mostwanted35 with the first step http://mostwanted-pens.com. So I follow the family tradition to create something I own and new. I want to connect all the cool brands ( not only pens ) that I know and like in one shop. This will be the mostwanted35. The first mortar and brick store will follow soon.
The third reason is that I am tired of the marketing of many brands and trade companies. Just following the quick money and not thinking in long term. For example my mobile phone contract was running for 7 years and I always paid the full old price. When I realized, I called them and said that I am a long term, loyal customer and I want a better rate. What the salesman said shocked me. He said that I have to quit the contract and to make a new one because new customers get a better rate. So I decided that I want to found a company that rewards loyal customers in the long run. So I built the Customer VIP Level. With every purchase you get a new level or you come closer to the next. For every reached level you achieve 1% discount on the complete order.
MPNI: Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how the pen community can get behind Kaweco and mostwanted-pens, besides the obvious of buying your pens!
SG: To know more about Kaweco and what’s behind us you should follow us on facebook. On the website you can also find our history. We are also working on a new history CD with better design and more information. There will be videos, pictures and so on. For mostwanted35 and mostwanted-pens there will be the first newsletter in August. We will change our shop system to a full responsive design system which is much better to inform and shop on a mobile.
MPNI: Your Classic line of pens is almost universally praised as a standard bearing pocket pen. Where does your design and engineering ideas come from?
SG: My father has a very big collection of old pens because he is a collector. We have so much inspiration there. Also we try to keep the DNA of Kaweco. Of course we have also our own ideas. I tell my father I have an idea for a design of a pen and his answer is: That’s not new, look here, Kaweco did this already in 1933. It is really hard to find something really new, which nobody has ever done. But sometimes we do it. For example with the Kaweco SUPRA. Nobody did this before or we could not find a pen with a part to unscrew and make it shorter.
MPNI: Any good insider info on what we should be on the lookout for from Kaweco coming up. Of course I would love to scoop it here on MPNI.
SG: For Kaweco there are so many ideas we have. Some retailers told me that we bring too many novelties throughout the year. And I tell them that we bring to market only half of the ideas we had because then it would be too much. This year we have already introduced: ICE Sport Black, CLASSIC Sport Red, The SUPRA, SKETCH UP Brilliant and Black, STUDENT Transparent, SPECIAL Dip pen, Mini Converter, Denim Pouches, SKETCHBOOK, German Shepard pen holder and a lot of POS Material.
Some other things coming for sure this year: Rhodium plated gold nibs, Bi-Color gold nibs in all nib sizes, SKYLINE Sport Macciato, AL Sport light blue, AC Sport Racing Orange and racing green, Orange ink and Grey ink.
At mostwanted-pens.com will be an exclusive AL Sport edition in addition to the Exclusive colors of LILIPUT which are already available. But that will be a surprise with the launch of the new shop system.
MPNI: What does Sebastian like to do when you’re not selling pens?
SG: I am producing them! In addition to pens I try to spend as much time as possible with my 2 year old son Antoine Gutberlet. He is the best thing I have ever created. He has already started drawing, so he is already into pens, too.
Big thanks to Sebastian for spending the time with us. I know many of us look forward to great new things from him and the team at Kaweco for the second half of 2016. Plus when you’re finished here go checkout , http://mostwanted-pens.com
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