FROM A HANDSHAKE TO REAL BUSINESS
In a big country with a big brand that has no customers in its portfolio, just how do you become a success?
TTW’s Chris Leibbrandt was curious to know how Wiley X became such a success in the Polish angling market, in less than two years. To discover its secret, he talked to Michał Kuźniar, co-owner of Polish-based FTT Company, and Thomas Wæver, EMEA vice president and outdoor director at Wiley X.
Chris quickly discovered that this kind of success takes a lot more than a friendly handshake.
Chris Leibbrandt: Michał, please let me know how it all began.
Michał Kuźniar: Two years ago at EFTTEX, when we had just established FTT, we were looking for a product with an exceptional value proposition, that wasn’t currently sold in the Polish market. We had dozens of meetings during the show trying to find the unique product with great potential we sought. The last booth we visited was Wiley X. From the very start of the meeting, we just knew that this was it. We just needed to convince Thomas, and make him believe that two guys with no track record in the fishing business should be the distributor that Wiley X was looking for.
CL: Thomas, so FTT came with a detailed business plan but no customer base, so a big risk… what made you dare to sign them?
Thomas Wæver: When appointing a distributor for any given market in EMEA, I’m not necessarily looking for the biggest distributor in terms of products and sales reps. I often look for what other products the distributor is already offering and those products have to be of high quality to reflect and complement the quality of our eyewear.
CL: Okay, so I can see that, but FTT didn’t distribute any other brands when they approached you – what on earth made you say yes?
TW: In this case it was very simple: it was all about focus and determination. Michał Kuźniar, and Lukasz Siminski, showed me from day one that they wanted to sell Wiley X and were willing to put the hours into making Wiley X successful. Looking back at their track record, they’ve reached plenty of significant milestones in less than two years.
CL: Michał, often hard work is not enough – you must have had a lot of support from Wiley X. Can you share with us, beside the many working hours you have put in for the brand, what kind of back-up you had from them?
MK: After signing the contract and after our opening order was delivered, Thomas came down and spent some days with Lukasz and myself. The days were spent on product training, discussing how to work the market and most importantly, learning more about each other. Thomas guided us through all the brand advantages and it additionally strengthened our belief that Wiley X was a right choice.
We have contact on a daily basis. We receive marketing support and a lot of flexibility in our actions, because each market is different. Wiley X also invited us to visit its European HQ in Denmark in order to see the company, the staff… and to fish. The company and the people are great, so it not only means our business cooperation is successful, but it is also a pleasure.
CL: How did you manage to get a new brand like Wiley X products into the shops?
MK: Apart from very hard work, we noticed a great advantage in the fact that anglers care a lot about quality. Often they hadn’t had the chance to wear good eyewear, something that is needed when fishing. There are so many different advantages to Wiley X that Polish anglers loved them right from the start.
CL: Support is key, and often overlooked; how did Wiley X support you after you managed to get a foot in the door of the fishing shops?
MK: As I explained earlier, we had product training, a preorder discount supported our marketing activities and additionally we agreed on many tailor-made solutions. We constantly ask for a hand in supporting new ideas, and we receive it – for example, Thomas came along to a fishing show to support us on our booth (see picture above).
CL: Thomas, you have been working with FTT for two years now. What are the characteristics of Michał and Lukasz as businessmen and partners that make Wiley X work in the Polish market?
TW: They are hardworking and dedicated to our brand. They have already been to the Wiley X EMEA HQ in Denmark for further product training and strategic business planning. They are both extremely competitive in all they do.
When we went pike and perch fishing during their visit, they wanted to know how many fish they had to catch to break the record. The record was 53. When they left Denmark the new record was 104. It shows beyond words how focused they are!
CL: Well, I can see that I have a challenge on my hands there, I’ll have to get out and beat that one! Michał, it’s been a great two years for you, how do you see the future for Wiley X in Poland?
MK: The more Wiley X users in Poland, the more the brand becomes popular, because users spread the ‘word’ with a lot of positive messages about Wiley X quality and the comfort they provide. We are still broadening and strengthening our distribution and availability in shops.
Now we are focusing on providing a full range of Wiley X Polarized models (with a brilliant tower display). Our goal is to double the sales in 2018. Finally, winning best new eyewear at EFTTEX has also boosted the sales and the interest in the Wiley X polarised eyewear among Polish anglers.