Vivapen keeping ink and pen production in the family
The Celje-based family business Vivapen has been manufacturing fountain pens, ink and other writing tools for 55 years. It is now the only Slovenian manufacturer and one of the few left in Europe.
The story of Vivapen began in 1967 when the founder Jože Viktor Melanšek started manufacturing tools and metal and plastic products in his parents' garage in Žalec near Celje. He was soon working for clients like the Celje-based stationary manufacturer Aero.
In 1975 he employed his first worker that stayed with the company until his retirement.
Three years later Melanšek's wife Vanda joined the craft. The company got its name Viva by combining the names of Viktor and Vanda.
As production expanded, Vivapen relocated to Nazarje, a town some 30 km west of Celje, in 1986. The company started production in Celje in 2003.
Vivapen truly became a family business in 1992 when the founder's daughter Petra Melanšek joined the company. She took over as director in 2007.
Now the company has some 70 full-time employees and is present in 30 markets around the world.
In 2022 Vivapen recorded €5.5 million in net sales revenue and just under €50,000 in profit. Only 4% of the sales were made in Slovenia, where most of the revenue is generated by sales of materials to cooperants.
The manufacturing process is becoming more and more automatised, robotised and digitalised, Petra Melanšek told the STA. The company is focused on sustainable production, recycling and using environment-friendly materials in products and packaging.
Vivapen does not only develop and manufacture fountain pens, roller ball pens, inks, ink cartridges and ink erasers, it also works in decoration and personalisation, using different printing techniques.
Some years ago the company decided to focus on the added value in production of fountain pens and rollerball pens and obtaining new customers internationally.
Melanšek described the foundations of the company's business philosophy as trained staff, innovation, automatisation, sustainable development, quality and expanding to new markets. The competitive advantages of the company are the many years of experience and the development innovative know-how.
In the past Vivapen had invested with the goal of creating business partnerships abroad, consequently increasing the added value per employee and share of exports. Now might be the time to shift focus on building their trademark, Melanšek said.
The company can only succeed in its goals if all employees are qualified and motivated to cooperate, so Vivapen will aim to invest in workers that see their future with the company.
"And if there is something that I personally want is for my son Luka to take over the company so that I can step down," Melanšek said. This might allow her to start a kindergarten at the company or create a park where employees can relax, which has been her wish for many years, she added.