Semi-retired after a life with badges and pins… and a lot of challenges!

Mr. Johannes Lundby is not retired anymore but it is not hard to understand why. It was difficult for him to slow down after almost 25 years as a business owner in Malaysia.
     Mr. Lundby left Denmark in 1979 where he worked for Glaxo Laegemidler A/S as their Advertising and PR Manager. After a sabbatical year around the world he took up a job through Industrifonden helping a group of Danish companies to do marketing research in South East Asia with base in Kuala Lumpur. It was a one year contract but when he was called back to Denmark he simply decided that life in KL was far too good to go back… and he decided to stay. By early 1980’s Mr. Lundby had his own little advertising agency, a quite successful one for a while:
     “I quickly found out that it’s not what you know but who you know. My good connections got us good jobs and we made profits from the early days. We even won a competition that included large international agencies such as J. Walter Thompson, McCann Ericsson etc. as our ideas were considered the most creative of them all. However, we didn’t get the assignment in the end, the client told us that we were too small…!”, Mr. Johannes muses and continues:
     Start of a badge business “This really made me think creatively on my own behalf. As there were upcoming elections I thought that it was time to introduce badges to Malaysia. With the advertising business going a bit stale at that point I bought the cheapest Aeroflot ticket to Denmark I could find and “smuggled” two badge machines back into Malaysia.”
     Despite the elections and creative campaign badges, they didn’t sell a single badge! However, Mr. Lundby is not a man who easily gives up. He designed other badges and sold them at football matches using the cigarette girls as his sales force. By the next election his company, Danbadge Sdn. Bhd., made 50,000 badges per day in 3 shifts.
     Badges soon started to become more popular, a bit of a fashion amongst the youth and business was thriving with amongst others export to Singapore. But fashion changes!
     Pins were next “I am pleased to say that I had the foresight before the fashion interest in badges wore off to invest in pin making facilities due to a request from a potential customer. We didn’t have any experience back then and had to learn everything from scratch. The pins we started in the late 80’s were terrible but we still managed to sell some”, Mr. Lundby remembers.
     A lot of trial and error was involved at that time with quite primitive production facilities but soon business was thriving. In fact, it was thriving so much during the 90’s that Mr. Lundby’s partners at the time created some problems and he moved his pin business into a new company called Danbadge Manufacturing Sdn. Bhd. in 1991 while the partners kept the trading part of business which were mostly involved in the premium market.
     Since then the pin business has been running fairly smoothly. Quality improved and at one time Danbadge Manufacturing Sdn. Bhd. was even appointed official Walt Disney manufacturer for Denmark for certain pin products.
     The company changed marketing strategy to be more export oriented and today 80% of the production is going for export markets such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, UK, Denmark and a bit for Malaysia . Obviously, the production facilities and methods are now much more sophisticated than in the early days.
     “I think one of our selling points is that we as a rather small company with 20 employees can be very customer oriented. We accept very small orders but are most comfortable with orders ranging from a few hundred to ten thousand pieces. Our biggest order so far was an order to Singapore for 1 mill. badges.
     Retirement can be boring! It was only a couple of years ago that Mr. Johannes Lundby decided the business was running so smoothly with good solid employees that he decided it was time to retire.
     “It was boring”, Mr. Lundby states without a doubt in his mind. “I didn’t really know how to spend my time. You can’t travel all the time, and you can only drink so much coffee with friends! Anyway, on one of my frequent trips to Indonesia I discovered that a lot of textile and leather manufacturers in Bandung were moving on to newer and cheaper pastures. That would mean a lot of empty facilities… and I decided to check it out, thought a new business would make me happy!”, Mr. Lundby laughs as he explains how he came about his newest business venture.
     Today Mr. Lundby also has a small leather manufacturing business with 7 employees in Bandung, Indonesia. They are primarily producing semi-manufactured leather items used in Danbadge produced items plus items made to order for other businesses, primarily items such as keyrings, belts, wallets and diaries. He claims that he is much more happy now spending 2 weeks in Bandung and 2 weeks in KL each month than when he was retired.
     So maybe it’s a good idea to plan retirement well in advance?

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