30 years of Ferkinghoff – with 100 per cent American products
This year, Ferkinghoff International – known as a distributor of successful US brands – is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Gun Trade World wanted to know more about this development and Ferkinghoff’s plans for the future, so who better to speak to than Andrea B. Ferkinghoff (spokeswoman for the management).
You have just renamed Waffen Ferkinghoff. What were your reasons for this?
With the rebranding to Ferkinghoff International we, as a distribution company, are also signalling our strategic orientation to the outside world. This underlines our previous positioning and furthermore, we use it to define further development opportunities – as an importer of successful US brands, also across the areas of weapons and accessories.
Where does Ferkinghoff International want to develop?
Nowadays, we supply well-known and profitable US products to weapon retailers for sport and hunting, outdoor and security. In addition to long and hand guns, we have extensive accessories that can be used to tune, optimise, maintain or even transport weapons.
Many of our products are also interesting for other areas, such as leisure and general merchandising. Additionally, there are interesting optics in the portfolio, for example they can be used for bird or animal observation or a wide range such as bags and backpacks for hiking enthusiasts and for female target groups. A portfolio that is now also reflected in the new company name. The goal is to expand existing target groups and the portfolio and thus address related industries.
How do customer needs differ from then and now?
The needs of the trade and resale have changed fundamentally in the context of digitisation and the continuous tightening of arms legislation. Today, retailers operate online and offline and aspects, such as fast delivery, comprehensive advice and support, pose new challenges for our team. Our task as an entrepreneur is to consistently align the competence of our employees along with the ongoing changes.
You joined the operative business at the beginning of 2001 and consistently brought your marketing expertise to bear. What has changed since then?
A lot – because Ferkinghoff is no longer just a name, it is an established brand.
The one-man company grew step-by-step in all respects: the product portfolio was continuously expanded with modern and interesting US brands. The beginning of digitalisation in this segment was the focus of marketing from the start and the number of employees grew. Ferkinghoff's external appearance has also been modernised. A first relaunch of the online presence also included its own specialist retail area in the shop, which was very well received and is now at the heart of our digital sales and thus of our further development.
The space requirement of the company grew in connection with exclusive cooperation with other successful US brands. This was followed by the next milestone in the company's history with the purchase of today’s company headquarters. In 2013 the new, larger business premises–- formerly a bank – was acquired after extensive renovation work. With over 1,200sq m of storage space and sufficient office space, managing director Achim Ferkinghoff gave the signal for further expansion.
All of the company’s important positions were always and still are occupied by the family. While I am responsible for marketing and sales, daughter Angelika – who lived in the USA for a while–- is responsible for purchasing and son Alexander controls all import and export issues. Achim controls the wholesale business and looks after the strategic direction. We are supported by all of our team members, who actively shape the company’s success with their expertise.
What is particularly important to you in your business?
With our comprehensive yet specific US product portfolio, we supply international markets today–- depending on the brand as an exclusive importer. Our German and European specialist dealers are of particular importance, with whom we maintain professional and efficient contact at all levels: online in the specialist trade area, by telephone and in person via the largest industry event – the IWA show in Nuremberg – depending on how it is requested and how much advice our specialist dealers need. Friendships have developed with many over time.
We give great importance to marketing our brands with heart and mind. You can only convince the customer if you are convinced of the product yourself.
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