Gamax, key rings and badges : the key to success!

Specialized in key rings and badges, but above all in the supply of the assembly tools for these small promotional gifts, the Catalan company is a stranger to the crisis.

Gamax markets its products and devices in more than 50 countries, with a turnover of nearly 5 million Euro. These are small products one imagines will easily become outdated. Nevertheless, both key rings and badges are still the delight of the Spanish company Gamax. “The key ring is a product theoretically old-fashioned, with an expiration date. Nowadays we open our hotel rooms with a card and tomorrow we will do so with our smartphones. However, until we change all the locks in the world, there will always be a market for the key ring”, explains
Xavier Marín, founder and manager of Gamax.

As for the badge, which has existed since the 1950s, it has become an effective promotional product because it is small, fast to produce and has a high image repercussion”. An optimistic approach which is based on this observation as well as on the good health displayed by the Catalan company, which focused on these niche markets from very early on.

Created at the end of 1998 under the name of Acsor, Xavier Marín’s company used to make holed buttons for the textile industry back then, but very quickly moved towards the design of badges, which uses the same technology as buttons. And from 1999, the company, now known as Gamax, expanded its offer to key rings and abandoned jacket buttons to focus on the promotional sector. “This is a case of hyperspecialization, on a local and European market”, says Xavier Marín.


France, a cherished market

soon opened on the international market and developed a network of distributors across Europe. Only Spain and France are managed directly from their headquarters in Ripollet, on the outskirts of Barcelona, where all the employees, and the boss, speak French. “France is my favourite market”, admits the manager. “From the beginning, the Fr
ench market allowed us to test and develop our products”
In 2005, the company’s export activities already represented 50% of its turnover, while continuing its growth on the big international market (Russia, Africa and the Americas).

But in 2008, the economic crisis reshuffled the deck. Hit hard, the Spanish market suffered a decrease in activity of 70% in just one year! In the midst of the storm, Xavier Marín measured the relevance of his strategy of opening up to the international markets: “We felt the crisis, but not as badly as our Spanish competitors. We were protected by our export business”. The company, which nevertheless went from 35 to 22 employees in 18 months, took advantage of the crisis to make significant investments in its domestic market. “We did not want to abandon Spain”.


Pushing the market higher

Today, their workforce has regained its pre-crisis level (33 people in the headquarters) and their turnover, close to 5 million Euro in 2015, has stabilized: 50% in Spain, 50% on exports. Gamax products are present in 51 countries, 20 of which are managed by distributors (the rest is spot transactions), often faithful to the Spanish brand. “Some have been working with us for more than a decade, the manager confirmed. Yet, Xavier Marín does not seem to be keen on the status quo for that matter.

The founder of Gamax advocates for adaptation to the changes in the market, including the arrival of e-commerce. Faced with the arrival of the digital era, there were two ways we could respond: either the supplier focused on manufacturing, the distributor on sales and the logistician on logistics, or we integrated everything, following the Amazon model.
We must take a leap into the void and change the old marketing precepts. Suppliers must be given the opportunity to work with everyone, while protecting distributors, in a win-win strategy, so that anyone who adds value to the market can benefit from it”.


Added value

On traditional products such as key rings and badges, Gamax bases its added value on its devices, where its expertise is focused on, and its services. “Our core business is not to sell key rings, but customization systems. We sell ideas, systems and devices so that customers can make their own key rings, insists Xavier Marín. “This allows us to respond quickly to urgent customization requests in small quantities, which is becoming a strong trend within the market”. But if the demand concerns a finished product, then Gamax makes every effort to have its distributor concentrate on its sale. Creativity, sampling, production (printing, rolling, packaging) and delivery, to the final customer if need be: Gamax takes care of everything. Without a doubt one of the keys to success!