Scaling Up While Keeping Core Company Values: Lladró’s Story
Founded in 1953 in Valencia, Spain, Lladró is a family owned Spanish company with a presence in more than 120 countries worldwide, known for their spectacular porcelain pieces. Over the years, Lladró has established itself as being at the forefront of contemporary porcelain design while staying true to its unique handmade process of creation (still carried out entirely in its Valencia workshops).
We caught up with CEO of Lladró USA, Juergen Woelflik, to discuss how one takes such an individualized process, like crafting products by hand, and successfully scales it all the way up to a large international business.
Lladró has grown exponentially in the last 60 years. We wanted to know how they managed to scale to become a multinational enterprise while keeping their core promise of individually handcrafted products. As it turns out, the secret is keeping all (capable) hands on deck. Juergen Woelflik explains, “We have built teams all over the world to obtain local knowledge and then we mix these teams with people from our Headquarters in order to maintain the spirit of our brand and company. We are well connected with our local teams, so we can assure that the excellence of our work is globally recognized.
“We were lucky to get a lot of very talented artisans over all these years […] a lot of our artisans have been with us for more than 30 years, which allows us to avoid artistic and technical problems and maintain the handcrafted value.”
Another essential aspect to scaling successfully is knowing who your audience is and how to target them based on the market you’re trying to sell in. Educating your consumer is key to driving sales as Juergen well knows. He states, “In some societies, people understand and appreciate very easily the value of the handcrafted and understand the challenges of porcelain as a material. Other societies need a lot of training to understand what is behind the process. We did a lot of work to show people how we do what we do and to help them understand the value of its true luxury and uniqueness; the values of a rare, handcrafted and in other words, authentic product.”
Lladró is deeply rooted in tradition. We were curious about how they continuously evolved over the past several decades while remaining true to their artisanal roots. Consumers are by no means a monolithic group and with new trends and technologies cropping up on a seemingly daily basis, it can be a struggle to keep up. As per Juergen, “The processes of design, how we format ideas and how we act in the markets are very different. We are using all of the available new tools to be able to create surprise in design, in finishes and in experiences with our product. One of our objectives, to bring warmth to people’s homes, is more timely than ever.”
So what advice does this CEO have for a brand looking to one day be an industry forerunner? “Create value with [your] product, be unique and believe in quality. Never lose the pride you have for your creations, never lose your authenticity.”