A drive for cheap goods abounds these days, and the promotional-products industry hasn’t escaped the frenzy. Spector & Co. has found a winning formula to distinguish its brand of products, which corporations emblazon with logos and use as gifts. “We don’t introduce products; we merchandise collections and stories to create a unique and attractive product line,” says Robert Spector, president. Founded in 1950, Spector acquired the company in 1991 along with his father, Allen, an apparel businessman.
Spector & Co. has also survived price wars by investing in innovation, recently acquiring equipment for two groundbreaking techniques. The Montréal-based company is the first to apply a new, laser-engraving technology, which can decorate an area twice the standard size. Another inventive addition is digital-printing technology that stamps multicoloured images and photos on a variety of products, which was previously impossible. And in this industry, a little colour can make a big splash.
Best-selling promotional product
Launched in 2006, the Helix Pen is the best-selling item in
Spector & Co.’s history, thanks to its user-friendly design. Originally, the Helix Pen was conceptualized by Spector & Co.’s factory in China. However, with the debut of the Candy Coated collection, Spector & Co. breathed new life into its design with an array of vibrant colours. “As with each of our items, they are all decorated with the customer’s brand, logo, or message on it,” Spector says.
Currently holding the leading position in the company’s plastic-pen category, the Helix Pen has made its stake in the marketplace. “The colour story and unique grip design captured the attention of all our distributors and the end users,” Spector says.
Journals, luggage tags, and other accessories
Before 2006, the promotional-products industry, including Spector & Co., relied on a consistent colour scheme of black, burgundy, navy, and green. However, in 2005, a female merchandiser changed that. “After getting familiar with our existing colour palettes, she felt we were missing a large part of the market with our narrow offering, with all dark colours and no cheerful ones,” Spector says.
Switching up the palette, the merchandiser made a strategic recommendation to incorporate new, untraditional hues that would help differentiate the brand, including bubblegum pinks, tropical greens, electric oranges, sky blues, and poppy reds. Ranging from notebooks to luggage tags, the resulting Colorplay Collection boasts 174 items that can be mixed and matched or sold in single tones.
Since Colorplay’s wildly successful launch, Spector & Co. has continued down the bold path of colour, branching out to nine different colour collections. The president even goes on trend-scouting trips to follow the latest European influences, tracking on one of the hottest products in their industry: stationary. “Mostly, our industry will go to the gift show in China and buy the products shown there,” Spector says. “We visit the typical ‘shopping’ cities to ensure we are on the pulse of this industry. We look to see what big brand names are doing in materials, colours, and styles.”
Sustainable writing goods
The Eco Collection, launched in 2008, caters to the rising consumer demand for environmentally friendly or “green” products across the spectrum. Stamped in earth tones or bright colours, the line offers a fresh flavour to traditional business products.
Without a doubt, the most unusual item in the Eco Collection is the Elephant Poo Poo Paper Notebook. As its name implies, the paper is processed from elephant’s organic waste. The raw material is collected in Bangkok, Thailand, from an area rich with wildlife. “They put [the elephant waste] in huge containers, sterilize it, boil it, let it dry in the sun, and make paper out of it,” Spector says. The resulting product is a perfect-bound notebook in three models and sizes. And it’s odour-free.
Meanwhile, the Aqua Ballpoint Pen is a push-action ballpoint with a transparent barrel and is made with 80-percent-recycled materials. “[Plastic manufacturers] collect water bottles and melt them down into little pebbles,” Spector says. “Our factory in China purchases these pebbles and uses them to mould into a pen.” The pen adds a distinctive streak to Spector & Co.’s product line and diverts many bottles from landfills.
In addition, the Pietra Stone Paper Notebook is perfect-bound and made of stone, with a 12-point soft cover and 40 white, lined sheets. “This ecological paper has no wood pulp, and is recyclable and photodegradable,” Spector says. The manufacturing process involves no tree-cutting, contains no water or air pollutants, and is made without the use of acids, alkaline, or bleach. “It’s a really unique product,” Spector says. “The paper is really cool, with a satin-like feel. It’s so smooth, your pen glides—and you can spill water on it and your ink doesn’t smear.”