I flew into Amsterdam on a blustery September day and drove northwards to the offices in Dokkum, Netherlands to meet Jordy de Jong and his colleague Sabrina Slagman and to take a look at the business phenomenon that is Probo and to hear more about their success story.
This relatively new ‘Print’ and fulfilment business is huge and just keeps growing, with 40% annual growth, expanding office and workshop space and over 220 staff – average age 29 years old , this is one of the biggest , most dynamic and most exciting businesses in our market. And certainly one of the largest and most interesting that I have seen in Europe. And I know for many the countryside of the north might not be as fast or as exciting as the city, but something truly magical is happening out here in Dokkum.
I asked Jordy and Sabrina about the ‘Probo’ business model ?
What makes us unique is the fact that we focus on a re-seller approach and we ensure that ordering is simple and straightforward – a touch of a button.
Let’s make one thing clear from the start: at Probo, all we want is to expand our customer’s opportunities in digital print. Fulfilment is not just a word, but our mission. And our strength lies is close relationship with re-sellers and then fully automated response to their needs.
We offer re-sellers all the tools they need to be successful as a professional reseller in print: a smooth ordering process, high-quality products, short shipping times and keen pricing to make your own margins.
What are the key elements of this business model ?
As I mentioned we are fully focused on resellers, We print all products in-house, High turnover, low prices. This means there is No need for us to have large inventory, We like all size of orders – no order is too small
Everything is done online – once you place your order, we’ll take it from there..
There is definitely a sense, when you walk around the building that the Owner - Erwin Postma and the Managing Director – Rene De Heij have a unique Leadership vision? It feels like a very flat hierarchy, you have open plan offices, lots of white boards on the wall, people are friendly, young and open. Can you tell me more about the culture ?
Innovation is key in our business. Having the right sort of business culture helps us to be innovative. This innovation comes from our leadership, from the people who work here and from our customers.
We are a constantly sharing knowledge. Probo educate and our customer event is all part of that ‘Philosophy’. And it connects us with our re-sellers on a regular basis.
At Probo, product development and innovation is a continuous process and a ‘way of thinking’. All combined with a dedicated service team that helps your business flourish!
I like the fact that Probo recognise the importance of design in print and have a separate company that focuses on this – Motiflowthis is another example of innovation.
Yes , Motiflow is a separate business within Probo which is run by Annemijn Filius, they print unique and original patterns from a range of designers on high-quality European fabrics.
Designers and illustrators upload their surface patterns on Motiflow.com. When someone, typically individuals, wants the design, then we print them on demand on high-quality fabrics, wallpaper and giftwrap. We have over 3000 designs, which can be ordered from 1 metre upwards and delivered within 7-9 days .
Motiflowfabrics are printed with unique non toxic pigment inks and the most modern printing techniques, which are GOTS-certified and also have the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification.
In the near future Probo re-sellers will be able to use these creative designs and sell the output whether it is fabrics or wallpaper.
The fabrics and printed products will then be delivered folded within a few days after production in the Netherlands.
As we walk through the warehouse we can see the size of this organisation and the way in which the whole system is fully automated. Tell me a little about the technology that you use?
We have several large Durst machines – printing on fabric, plastic, metal and more traditional media and a number of HP-Latex machines, as well as a number of cutting machines from Zund and a label machine from Screen.
What you notice is the sheer size of the workspace and the way it is all ‘fully automated’ and then all elements connect together with great simplicity and efficiency. In fact, we have a dedicated technical department that spends all their time managing the workflow. We definitely see this as crucial to the success of the business.
Thanks to efficient production methods and a high turnover rate, we keep our delivery times low and your sales price competitive.
We also go into the experience centre area, which Probo use to run re-seller and customer events.
This area has a number of pre-built feature elements, so that we can show the customer what we do. Whether it be interior décor, wallpaper, furnishing or for retail. We walk from room to room to experience the possibilities. It is a great visionary experience.
Thanks to Sabrina and Jordy.
If you would like to know more go to probo.nl and or motiflow.com