Thank goodness it was FTD again. It seemed like the last Friday Trainee Day had been a decade ago thanks to a random chain of holidays and business trips. During the week before Friday, I was suffering from severe symptoms of inside-the-box, silo-enforced thinking and lack of creative drive altogether. Even my well of kitchen philosophy was running dry, without a single memorable self-made theory during the last couple of weeks. I knew that in order to get out from this death valley of stagnation, I was in desperate need of a healthy FTD stimulus supplement.
To get me back on the back of a horse, I couldn’t have probably had a better trainee host than Verman. While the day lingered around the unmistakable arch enemy, the all time boogie monster himself of all engineers, marketing (!!) plus at totally unknown business territory for me, it was the shock treatment needed to regain a healthy diversity in my thought pattern base.
Regarding my host in a nutshell, Verman is a family owned company founded in 1987. They do not have any proprietary production facilities and undeniably their forte is in sales and marketing. Not to forget your products and R&D entirely, it goes without saying that you have to have tested, good quality products. They operate mainly in Finland with 90% of their sales coming from the domestic market, but they also have presence in other Nordic countries, the Baltic’s, Russia and even China. With a ton of products at pharmacy side, they decided to bolster their offering by acquiring a couple of years ago Suomen Bioteekki – a daily consumer vitamin and supplement brand.
For those of you that are not so familiar with Verman, it is one of those Finnish, family owned companies that are an essential part of our everyday lives without making too much of a noise about themselves. In a way, they fall in the same unsung-hero-category with Plastex -the Finnish plastic molding company I had a FTD previously. Take the Rela-product range altogether or Minisun vitamin-D supplements as an example or just skim through their product catalog, it is a revealing moment – Are you guys seriously behind all these products?
With a track record of consistent growth over all of the years of it’s existence, one could not expect anything else than continuation for this saga, considering the current health boom and all. On the other hand, Samuli Lyly-Yrjänäinen, the Sales and Marketing Director at both Verman and Bioteekki, pointed out that constant growth requires a mix of constant reinvention in both product and marketing innovation to curb the competition.
Sticking to the competition and market share, by sales numbers Verman is no flyweight contender typically being able to grasp to a place on the podium. Still, Orion is the dominant Goliath on the block. With their sheer size, Orion can coast behind the forerunners and then use brute force to impact markets, keeping the diversely talented Verman pack light on their feet. There is so little competition in Finland altogether in anything, that we really need more companies like Verman.
To me personally, the underdog position of Verman, is the ultimate fuel of innovation. Add the sane mentality of running a family owned business and tight knit webb of regulation for both medicine and health supplement products, and voilá, you are facing a perfect challenge! And make no mistake, this challenge the people at Verman had appeared to emrace well. Having been introduced to some of their successful product and marketing innovations, Samuli, Brand Manager Matilda Kaila and other marketing guns at Verman delighted me with marvel and splender for example how to formulate your product claims with maximum impact yet still flying clear under the radar of rogue busines ethics and false marketing.
There has been a lot of talk about innovation during the last years in Finland for reasons I will not repeat at this point. All in all, I can name at least to unusual factors that favor innovation at Verman; a heterogenous group of people and a truly open culture for new ideas. And I am not saying all ideas should be taken too seriously -especially mine that is-, but you should never shoot down even the most ridiculous appearing idea just taking flight, just because innovation works sometimes in mysterious and indirect ways.
The day draw to a close once again far too soon, but I think plenty of areas with prospect were seeded and our shared saga appears to continue in the near future. Learning a lot once again far away from my own comfort zone (if there is one after all), I reciprocally also noticed some typical areas where a fast growing company might need a little push from a wannabe IT geek. I salute you Verman!