Compacon: Sustainable Practice and Customer Expectations

Compacon has been in the promotional industry for over 25 years. In recent years they have developed into one of the more leading companies in the industry focusing on more enterprise customers. In terms of sustainable practice, the company started with an ISO 9001 certification in 2010. They then decided they wanted to take it to the next level about two years ago.

They relieve companies from all their duties when it comes to promotional products, premiums and gifts. For example, developing creative concepts, sales promotion, facilitating a webshop, you name it. 

We spoke to Robert-Jan Verboom, Operations and IT manager at Compacon. During a short interview, we asked him about his experience with Nexio Projects and their desire to operate (more) sustainably.

“We’re always looking for new trends that we can use for our customers. In the end, we want to relieve our customers from challenges and worries, like a lot of other companies do. I think we do it really well and with a lot of experience under our belt.”

Compacon has everything in-house, a customer can basically outsource their entire promotional product activity. The team takes care of everything from managing a webshop to the design, which is done in their very own studio. Of course, making sure that branding is on point every single time.

The promotional products industry might not be the first you think of when it comes to sustainable practice. In reality, the industry made a tipping point around 2008, when waste generation dropped below retail sales. It's been that way ever since (source: Euromonitor).

To take a step back, Robert-Jan has been with the company for almost 16 years. About 10 years ago the company started with ISO certifications to demonstrate their level of sustainable practice. They started with ISO 9001, which they achieved in about 2 years.

Then, the company decided to also get ISO 14001, which was also of growing interest to their customers at the time. However, the company was internally equally motivated to be responsible and sustainable.

“We felt it was important to keep evaluating our internal processes and apply continuous improvement. It is not just for the outside, it really keeps a focus on change and improvement. So, we wanted to achieve ISO 14001 certification.”

The industry is changing a lot in that most of the larger companies work with tenders. Sustainability has become an important theme in the requirements. That’s why, in 2019, Compacon decided to follow up in more depth on the topic.

Compacon is a member of the trade association, and via the PPP they were put in touch with Nexio Projects. Compacon does their utmost to be the best in the market, so they are always looking for a way to develop and grow. The company had an internal drive to do more than the ISO certification.

“Of course, it’s nice to mention to customers, but in the end, sustainability is something that strengthens your company from within.”

Through collaboration with Nexio Projects, Compacon has been able to go a step further in terms of sustainability. The company was already doing a lot of work internally. By working with an external party, they’ve organized their processes in a way that is engaging to their employees. Now, sustainable practices are workable for everyone in the organization.

“Nexio Projects added a layer of professionalization to our sustainable practices, which has just taken us to the next level.”

The trigger to start all this was that Compacon was getting more and more questions from customers. That prioritised an internal drive to work sustainably. By working with Nexio, Robert Jan says they were able to avoid future challenges, had they not started the collaboration. Now, they’re prepared for their customers’ demands.

“We avoided sustainability challenges ahead of time by working Nexio Projects.”

Many companies seem to be looking for the best way to apply sustainability to their businesses. Not only that but also how to demonstrate it to their stakeholders. The EcoVadis assessment offers a platform that supports companies with that challenge. The certification assesses how environmentally sustainable your supply chain.

From a sales point of view, Compacon feels that they build trust by being able to answer most sustainability-related questions. It instils a lot of confidence in their potential and existing customers.

It’s still difficult to gauge what the exact impact has been. Robert Jan says the company is already getting a lot of demand and also for tenders, which is great to see. Since sustainable practice is an expectation from customers our EcoVadis certification is a confirmation that we’re doing the right thing.

“We believe in doing what you’re good at. For Compacon, that means promotional products. Nexio Projects is obviously very good at helping companies with sustainable practices, that’ why we decided to work with you.”

The collaboration has run very smoothly. Robert-Jan was especially happy with the ease of communication in terms of availability and responsiveness.

“I know that I can always give the team a call if I have a question. That has just made it a pleasure to work with Nexio.”

Compacon has worked with Nexio twice now, the first time for the EcoVadis certification and then again for the re-certification. In both occasions, the company achieved the desired result in terms of sustainability performance.