From wooden toys to plastic bricks
The LEGO Group is a family-owned company, founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in a small town of Billund in the region of Southern Denmark. The word LEGO, as we probably all know, is derived from the Danish expression “leg godt”, meaning “play well.” The two words have become the most important guideline to the Kristiansen family, who still own the company, despite the fact that LEGO Group is already more than 80 years old. LEGO bricks as we know them were born in 1958. Before that, the company manufactured highest quality wooden toys, but when couple of fires struck the company’s warehouses, Godtfred Kristiansen – Ole’s son and the Group’s second president – decided to focus the production processes on manufacturing plastic bricks, which eventually revolutionized the global toy market and contributed to creating one of the strongest brands ever. The company’s products have undergone extensive development over the years – and LEGO Group itself had its highs and lows – but the foundation remains the traditional LEGO brick – and the creative play experiences it offers to all users. Nowadays LEGO Group is a highly profitable company, which boasts wide portfolio of products, including core product lines such as LEGO City, LEGO Star Wars, LEGO DUPLO, as well as LEGO Friends, LEGO Chima, LEGO Ninjago, LEGO Creator and LEGO Technic. The company also offers other product lines such as LEGO Creator Expert, LEGO Simpsons and other products like “Pick a brick” and “Build a minifigure”. LEGO Group’s offices are located in the US, London, Singapore, Shanghai and naturally also in the company’s Headquarters in Billund, where it all began in 1932.
Always one step ahead of its competitors
When we think about LEGO Group and analyze the Danish company’s business activity, it’s easy to forget that we deal with one of the most renown manufacturing companies in the world. A company, which hires thousands of Employees, cooperates with many of its business partners and suppliers, manages warehouses and logistics on several continents. We are talking about the LEGO Group - the world’s most valuable toy company with a value at over $14.6 billion. Building a global brand is a long and demanding process, not playing with bricks and wooden toys. Plus we have to remember, that the company’s products are generally intended for children, which means that LEGO bricks have to pass the most severe and strict quality and safety tests. Mrs. Andrea Faflíková, LEGO Group’s Regional PR & Event Manager explains, how it is complicated to actually finish a set of bricks: “Product safety begins with our raw materials. Every individual substance, raw material, LEGO element and LEGO set is screened to verify compliance with the European Toy Safety Directive as well as other legislation, e.g. US legislation, and also with the Group’s internal requirements. LEGO bricks are made of only the absolutely safest and cleanest materials. We can document that the more than 2,000 raw materials we use pass the requirements. To ensure impeccable product safety, all production and consumer feedback is monitored and should any safety defects be identified, a product recall is performed. Since 2009, the LEGO Group has performed zero product recalls. Zero product recalls remains our continuous target.” Zero product recalls. An ambitious target, yet accomplished so far. Still, without a group of perfectly prepared Employees and proper technological background impossible to maintain. Luckily for LEGO Group, the company from Billund boasts both. “There was 13,869 Employees working for The LEGO Group in the end of the year 2013, currently more than 14,000 are employed. Being a family owned company dedicated to delivering high quality and creative play experiences to children all over the world, we are very much a value driven company. We measure the Employee satisfaction and engagement annually, as we want to be a great place to work for all Employees“ – says Mrs. Faflíková. Three generations of the Kristiansen family worked for more than 80 years to make LEGO Group a different corporation – focused on creativity, innovation, highest standards, traditional hierarchy of values. It has become the role models for other family entrepreneurship, a very unique type of commercial organizations. Although the Danish company had to face couple of problems during its long and rich history, it has never forget about its principles, its mission and vision, which all together comprise the company’s management philosophy, thanks to which LEGO Group has survived every crisis. Of course that would not be possible, if not the cutting-edge machinery and equipment, as well as optimized production and logistics processes. LEGO Group needs to maintain its manufacturing facilities all over the world to be able to effectively respond to the needs of ever changing market, co-create global trends and make sure that the company’s Customers are fully satisfied. “We are currently building a LEGO factory in China to supply all of Asia with LEGO products in future. The factory will supplement our current factories in Europe (Denmark, Hungary and Czech Republic) as well as our factory in Mexico. In addition we have just opened our fifth main office globally, which is a part of our ambition to truly globalize the LEGO System in Play – providing LEGO play to children all over the world” – explains Mrs. Faflíková
“Only the best is good enough”
Children in more than 130 countries. They are LEGO Group’s most important stakeholders and it’s up to them, if the Danish company will be able to carry on its business in the future. Also, as one of the global business leaders, LEGO Group carries a great responsibility for the future generations. That is why the company puts emphasis on building an environmentally friendly manufacturing company, which pays respect to the rules of Corporate Social Responsibility. One could write a book about all the efforts LEGO Group puts to make Earth a better place to live. The company will soon become a 100% renewable energy company, as states one of the most important targets of LEGO Group. The company lives up to its motto – “only the best is good enough.” Mrs. Faflíková puts it this way: “We focus on how we can deliver that in every aspect of the way we operate – also explicitly through the product we make. In that sense awards are significant to us – continuously delivering the best we can, and to provide children with great play experiences is what is meaningful to us. As you can see, if you start thinking like LEGO Group, you might eventually repeat its success. But you have to start right now.