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Spotlight on Efco’s CEO, Martin Erler

Craft Business: How and when was the company started?

Efco: Well, we’re celebrating the Efco’s 50th birthday this year and it really was a kitchen table operation at the start – Lutz and Inge Erler (the present CEO’s parents) started it all by selling enamelling kilns and accessories from their home.

CB: What products does Efco specialise in?

Efco: We still build kilns in Rohrbach, Germany and Efcolor low melt enamel remains one of our most popular lines. But now, Efco also offers a diverse range of more than 20,000 craft components to the retailer, supplying everything for papercrafts, jeweller making supplies, candlemaking, Decopatch shapes and now and much more.

CB: What are your bestsellers?

Efco: We are glad to see that after 40 years or so, Macramé is making a reappearance in time for our anniversary in its new 21st century guise as Paracord braiding. This is proving to be a hot seller this summer. The other real craze is ‘Loom Bands’ and we just can’t get enough of these; we have a container due mid June, that we hope will see our customers through the season!

Décopatch paper mache and Papp Art shapes are consistent top sellers. Great for home decor and wedding and party favours, we’ve added to our range of Papp Art letters (available in three sizes) with a new 10cm high serif style, plus for the first time we are stocking Décopatch papers, as an addition to our popular napkin decoupage range. Do ask your sales representative for details.

Anything to do with feltmaking is selling well at the moment too and our new felting wool spinner, launched at Paperworld in Frankfurt, is a strong seller.

CB: What are your plans for the future?

Efco: We are aware that we need to develop our internet presence with the aim of supporting our retailers, so an effective B2B online site is essential and is one of our immediate goals. Our strategy is still to focus on the retailer, both bricks and mortar and online stores and unlike some manufacturers, we have no plans for direct sales to the consumer. We are becoming more of a global company as new markets emerge, and despite the challenges in the Eurozone, there is still potential in our European home market – so there are plenty of opportunities to keep us busy for the next year or so.

CB: What support do you offer to retailers who stock Efco products?

Efco: The Efco catalogue is a great resource. It’s updated twice a year with the latest trends and useful

guidance on craft techniques, plus it lists everything in the current range. We are still old fashioned enough to believe in a personal approach, we have sales agents out on the road to offer expert advice and support and are always available on the phone to answer any queries. We can also provide in-store demonstrations and offer finished samples, though these are subject to terms and order minimums, so do contact us for more details. Our aim is to be the one stop shop of choice for the craft retailer and with that in mind we have developed strong partnerships with leading craft brands such as Plaid and this summer we have added Décopatch papers to the range. We also try and be on top of the latest crazes – as mentioned above, at the moment everyone is going loopy for Loom Bands.

By offering a diverse selection of brands, basic craft items and our own branded products, we can offer the retailer considerable savings in inventory, plus the sheer convenience of being able to source from one supplier with great value and service – in a way, I suppose, we see ourselves as the Viking Direct of craft!

CB: You’re gearing up for a milestone anniversary, to what would you accredit this success?

Efco: You mean milestones! 50 years of Efco, 40 years of Hobbygross, our distribution company, and 20 years at our logistics facility in Rohrbach. To answer your question, it’s down to hard work and a great team. Also, the values of all successful family-run businesses – caring passionately about products and customers, as well as being there for the long term, rather than a quick buck.

On the subject of milestones; we started the ball rolling at our home fair at the beginning of June and we’ll keep the ball rolling with some super anniversary offers over the coming months, plus you might find a little gift from us in your next order. So don’t miss out, join in the fun, and make sure you are part of Efco’s year of anniversaries.

Best Seller

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1974: Lutz Erler starts Efco, selling enamelling kilns & supplies from the family home.

1984: As the company grew and expanded, hobbygross Erler GmbH was established as the distribution and wholesaling division.

1994: Hobbygross moves to its present distribution centre in Rohrbach & offers over 20,000 lines to the retailer throughout EU

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