"We've grown together"
Elly Nooyens has been working for Cartamundi for over forty years. She manages the manual work of social enterprises in Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland and France. As long as she remembers, Cartamundi has been cooperating with A-kwadraat. Marc Sylverans is purchase manager of the whole Cartamundi group and manages the supply chain of the Turnhout branch.
Nobody seems to remember how the cooperation started.
Elly Nooyes: “We have been cooperating with social enterprises for over thirty years now. Because A-kwadraat is so nearby, we can organize daily transport between our facilities. Over the years, we got to know one and another quite well. Our companies have grown together."
Marc Sylverans: “Indeed. I have seen this growth happen on different levels. Growth in terms of professionalization, gradually, we have come to a more structured way of cooperating, exchanging information and coordinating planning. Growth on a competitive level, for example, by investing in machines and increasing our output. And growth in number of employees, A-kwadraat has never had more employees available for Cartamundi than it has today. Within the walls of Cartamundi, we automate as much as possible, and if manual work is needed, we immediately think of A-kwadraat."
What is happening exactly?
Marc: “Cartamundi Turnhout specializes more and more in the booming business of collectables. Printing, assembling and packaging those cards is rather complex. Moreover, those processes require a significant amount of manual work. Our customers look for beautiful and outstanding products. They expect more and more components and complexity in their games. A-kwadraat also helps with filling the displays, making special packages, the assembling of board games – from large quantities to single pieces for samples.”
Elly: “Most series of collectables release new editions every few months. Each package has a different composition. Players can get caught up in such games and rare cards can be worth a lot of money. So, we have to pay attention to security and put an embargo on new cards. Therefore, we have to be able to count on our partners.”
Do you have strict procedures to follow?
Elly: “Of course. There has to be a check-up every 30 minutes. During our weekly meeting, we discuss the planning and we daily monitor which and how many pieces have been finished. Our trucks are being loaded at A-kwadraat and go straight to our customers. Sometimes up to ten trucks a week.”
What is the added value of a partner like A-kwadraat for you?
Marc: “Flexibility. Our supply of material does not always follow the schedule, yet we can always count on A-kwadraat. They always find a solution by shifting people within units or switching between time-critical and non-time-critical work. A-kwadraat is steady enough to counter the irregularities in our supply chain, without making a problem out of it. During yearly evaluations, they always mention it as a point of improvement, but always with a smile.”
Elly: “Indeed. Even when we’re not able to deliver in time, we never notice a sign of dissatisfaction. In contrast, A-kwadraat helps us to find a solution. That makes them such a reliable partner. Also, I really like how they engage with their employees. I don’t know how, but they always succeed in putting the right people in the right place.”
A-kwadraat strongly focuses on sustainability. Cartamundi does that too?
Marc: “Of course. Sustainability is very important for us, it’s something we share with A-kwadraat.
Elly: “Plastic-free packaging becomes more and more important. It often requires manual work, such as folding packages or attaching glue strips. Also, cardboard certified by FSC is growing, for example.”
Marc: “From our point of view, sustainability has different aspects. Think of taking care and supporting employees, choosing the right materials for our production and staying close to our markets – on different continents. We could choose to outsource our manual work to companies in Poland, but thanks to a partner like A-kwadraat, we’re able to offer less automated products closer to the market.”