10 minutes with Isaac Steinhaus, Director, Bayseven
Continuing our series of Q&As with influential individuals involved in various facets of the promotions industry; this month we focus on Isaac Steinhaus, Director of Bayseven, a company that specialises in the creation and distribution of promotional premiums direct from manufacturing facilities in Europe, USA and the Far East.
Isaac founded Bayseven seven years and two months ago, a date he can be very specific about as it was the day his daughter Michelle, who arrived a little earlier than expected, was born.
How long have you been involved in the promotions industry?
In total, I’ve been involved in the promotions industry for 9.5 years.
How did you become involved?
Well, that’s quite a complicated story as my background is in project management!
My wife, Hannah, was working for an office stationery and furniture supplier when she went on maternity leave and decided she wanted to work from home. Her employer had contact with another stationary supplier in Holland who had recently taken part in a very successful exhibition and they were willing to pass on the contacts from the show for my wife to work on. She decided that would be a full time commitment and too much at that particular time.
About a year later, my company decided to move into central London, which I was not prepared to do. So I approached my wife’s company and offered to work for a month, at no fee, to analyse and explore the data they had been given by their Dutch associates. The findings were positive and I eventually opened a promotional division for the company.
Having got the promotional bug (I love the diversity of this industry) I decided to open my own company and parted amicably from my then employers to set up Bayseven.
What has changed about the industry since you joined?
Product development and leaps forward in technology have lead to far more interesting and intricate products. Likewise developments in print mean that products can now be personalised with a full colour finish rather than the single, or maximum two colours, available when I first got involved. Ink quality is another factor; at one time you could practically scratch off the logo, but now it seems to completely blend in with the product.
Lead times have also decreased from 5 – 6 weeks to 1 – 7 days.
Support for trade suppliers and distributors has grown enormously with various bodies including bpma, PROMOTA, Trade Only and PSI offering advice and wider support and each country in the EU now seems to have its own association.
What further changes would you like to see?
It would be good to have more regulation on imports from China. It’s very easy to import, but more easy to be stung if you are not wary of the pitfalls. I would like to see a regulator with teeth that could mediate and discipline where necessary, but I don’t see that happening in the near future.
What do you like most about the industry?
The fantastic thing about this industry is its diversity, you never do the same thing twice. Every product is different, even a basic product can be made different by its colour or creative branding and that's fascinating. Plus it’s dealing with products that are tangible; you start with an idea and you work through visuals, prototypes, samples … and eventually get to hold the finished product you created in your hand.
Promo e-News is a website devoted to promotional merchandise, so tell me, what’s the favourite piece of merchandise?
I love the versatility and practicality of mugs. Everyone has one on his or her desktop. There are so many shapes and so many fantastic new designs it’s easy to blend these to create a really eye catching item.
What’s the worst example of promotional merchandise in your opinion?
Mouse mats, they are either rectangular or round – how dull!
If you weren’t in the promotions indu stry, what would like to be doing?
My dream job would be to work as a lawyer in the criminal justice system, but the system is too distorted. It seems to me that the best lawyer wins, or the party with the most money, not necessarily the party with right on its side.
Who do you admire/respect most in the public eye?
… and why?
He’s an achiever and enjoys life at the same time.
If you were to have an industry dinner party, who would you invite to chew over the facts and put the industry to rights or simply to amuse you?
If I’d have to bring someone in who was completely out of the industry to look at it from an objective point of view and on a business level, I’d bring in Bill Gates. Ricky Gervais would be a good addition to make light of the situation and I’m sure Jack Nicholson would be opinionated – about everything! Oh, and Angelina Jolie for eye candy!
What’s your typical office day?
Monday is always a full day in office mostly dealing with matters from China. I believe to work hard you have to be fit and healthy, so on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I gym and Friday mornings I swim before going to the office. Having had my R&R in the mornings, I often end up working late in the office, but I try never to take work home.
Tell me something about you that nobody in the industry knows?
I used to be an avid marshal arts enthusiast studying Jujitsu, Karate and Aikido in schools in England, Israel and America.
Any other comments you care to make?
On the positive side, I find the industry very approachable, unlike other industries where it’s cutthroat. I’ve sat down with competitors at industry events and had a drink and a laugh.
Generally, I think the industry is heading in right direction, prices are coming down along with lead times and quality is going up.
Isaac Steinhaus, Director, Bayseven