The pencil industry continued to see changes in 2009.
In the US, the last American produced Dixon pencils disappeared from store shelves. Sanford meanwhile announced the end of their US production. (Dixon is owned by FILA, and Sanford is a division of Newell Rubbermaid.) Smaller firms General Pencil of New Jersey and Musgrave of Tennessee remain in business. Suppliers of lacquers, lead cores, bonding agents, ferrules, erasers, and packaging must no doubt also be impacted.
Staedtler has ceased pencil manufacturing in Australia, and also laid off in Malaysia.
Pelikan purchased Herlitz. I think we’re going to see broader offerings from Pelikan in the future. Their woodcase pencils already have footholds in Asia and South America.
The Eberhard Faber trademark was sold by Staedtler to Faber-Castell, the deal closing January 1, 2010. This is really interesting, and Faber-Castell has already stated that new Eberhard Faber products will be shown at the 2010 Paperworld show.
Speaking of Paperworld – something really new happened in 2009 – thanks to blogs like Lexikaliker, Timberlines, and Stationery Diary, many of us got glimpses of the stationery trade shows Paperworld and ISOT. We learned of two new products from Lyra, and the relaunch of the Colleen Pencil Company. The biggest announcement was from pencil industry giant Staedtler, who announced WOPEX, a product and process with the potential to shake up the industry.
From a consumer perspective, we also learned a bit about the time it takes to bring products to market. Very few products announced during the February Paperworld are in the marketplace at year’s end.
More about these pencil highlights – Lyra announced the Groove, a line of colour pencils (and also graphite) with cut out “grooves” to assist with the grip. Even more interesting, they announced the Colorstripe, a triangular shaped colour pencil set with lead exposed along the axis of a pencil.
Colleen is a former Japanese pencil manufacturer, whose brand has been relaunched by a former manager now based in Thailand. They celebrated their relaunch with colour pencils made of teak wood, a most intriguing offering. Just this past month, the former flagship pencil, the Hi-Pierce, was relaunched, including sets in teak wooden boxes.
WOPEX, “Wood Pencil Extrusion”, is an extruded pencil format made principally from wood! It surprises us because Staedtler is possibly introducing their own competitor!
Groove, Colorstripe, Hi-Pierce, and WOPEX pencils will be discussed here in 2010. Their creation tells us that the pencil is still a subject of innovation.
The online world has also continued to keep us educated and informed about pencils. Stalwarts like Dave’s Mechanical Pencils and Lexikaliker have been supplemented by PenciLog.
Manufacturers and retailers have not forgotten the public either. There is an increasing online presence from manufacturers and retailers of stationery items. My advice: don’t constantly push and sell. Rather, educate and inform. Share insights and knowledge. This will draw in more people (and keep them better engaged) than being in constant sales mode.
Online retailers continue to be an important source of supply for those interested in quality pencils. In particular, I have to salute Bundoki.com for their excellent service, wide range of products, and commitment to providing the world’s best stationery items. I also like the service provided by Skripta-Paris in France and Nota Bene in Canada.
Let’s see what 2010 brings!