Technical insights and knowledge have always been fundamental to the Frandsen Project. But when the CEO, Thomas Hansen, added design as a mindset and a focus in the organisation, turnover increased significantly. Design is also about understanding people, and this is where Thomas Hansen really gets down to business.
A man is waiting in the local Starbucks on his way to a photoshoot. This particular Starbucks is just one of all the many Starbucks coffeehouses in Europe equipped with lighting from Frandsen Project. The man is Thomas Hansen, CEO of Frandsen Project, which recently rated among the best ever in the Starbucks supplier list:
“The original order was for three products. Now we manufacture almost 20 different sets of lighting for Starbucks. I´m incredibly proud of the ranking we have received on behalf of everyone in our organisation, and it is a seal of approval.”
He continues: “Associations with global companies like these are very important for our business. They encourage us to continuously create great products of high quality. We enjoy pushing the boundaries when combining aesthetic design with what´s technically possible in joint ventures with our customers.”
People create business – companies deliver
The talk has taken Thomas Hansen to location number one for the shoot: a café in small Danish town Vejle, called CONRAD. This is where Thomas Hansen goes to get ideas and also where many of his international meetings take place – because it has a cosy feeling to it:
“I like the people around me. I believe it makes everyone more comfortable to be in a welcoming and cosy environment, and I sincerely believe that we create not only better ideas but also better deals, products and a best working environment when meeting face to face”, he states.
CONRAD is located in an ancient half-timbered building with dark wooden floors, low-ceilings and light green or white bricked walls. Each room is decorated with lighting exclusively from Frandsen Project. To the question of why not take potentially important clients into impressive corporate buildings instead of the local café, he replies:
“It´s about being true and honest. It´s about meeting as people and not as companies. It´s important to me to be able to explain things and to collaborate with a human being – not with a company”.
Trust, loyalty and self esteem
But it´s one thing to talk about how one likes to do business. Another thing is how Thomas Hansen actually creates the room for converting conversations into products and sometimes entire collections:
“First of all, we are blessed with a high level of competencies in Frandsen Project. Secondly, the people in our organisation are loyal to one another, so I know when I promise something to a customer we are able to keep that promise. And I never promise more than we can deliver,” he says and smiles. He tells how, over his 20 years within Frandsen, first as an intern, then as an employee and now as CEO, he has come to realise two important things about himself:
“I have a knack for understanding the brief from a customer and adding some extra value to it. This could be design-wise as well as technically. And secondly, I prioritise honest communication. If I believe something is wrong or impossible or that a different methodology would deliver a better result, I state my opinion – respectfully, naturally – but I trust my instinct and the ability of my employees.”
This brings us back to the collaboration with a certain global coffee house that started out as a simple brief for three different lamps that has become a much broader partnership collaboration.