International Person of the Year – Michael Nick

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Michael NickMichael Nick was born into the promotional products industry. He counts himself lucky to have been so sired.

Back in 1920, Nick’s great-grandfather founded Senator, a leading supplier/manufacturer of brandable writing instruments. Nearly 100 years later, his family – with Michael at the forefront – continues to lead the Germany-based company, propelling Senator to new heights of international success. “My whole life I was very close to Senator and the promotional products industry,” says Nick, formerly CEO and now head of the supervisory board. “I love the industry, the products. They’re real products that you can touch and that have a function.”

Nick’s passion permeates Senator, and is a big reason why the supplier has grown into such a major player in the writing instrument space. In 2014, Senator supplied products to customers in 88 countries, selling 235.4 million writing implements. While the Super Hit was Senator’s top-selling pen at 39.5 million units sold, the breadth of writing instruments that Senator offers is much broader than any one style, something Nick says is no accident. “We are convinced that a promotional item must fit perfectly to the design DNA of the advertised brand,” says Nick. “That is why we strive to have more choices than others.”

To stay at the forefront of innovation, Nick and his team announced a partnership with DesignworksUSA, a BMW Group subsidiary. Their new service, called “Your Personal Pen,” allows companies to individualize their pens to fit their brands as perfectly as a tailored suit. Plus, for the next three years, DesignworksUSA will work exclusively for Senator on new design themes.

Nick says the design emphasis is on creating pens that are modern but not too extravagant, thus appealing to a diverse range of end-users. “The decision to make design a driving force of their new pen generation is an expression of Senator’s vision and confidence,” says Sonja Schiefer, director of the DesignworksUSA studio in Munich.

The partnership with DesignworksUSA is just one achievement Nick is proud to have had a hand in at Senator since officially beginning work at the family company in 2003. “To produce plastic pens in very small quantities and in large production runs in a very short time is a great achievement of the whole Senator team,” says Nick, noting the many design awards won by the company are career highlights as well.

Nick’s accomplishments are elevated by his activity within industry circles and beyond. Nick is chairman of the European Writing Instrument Manufacturer’s Association, a member of the Supplier Steering Committee of the European Promotional Products Association, the PSI Advisory Board and the German Writing Industry Association. He also advocates for the industry on issues pertaining to the clampdown on pharmaceutical companies’ ability to use promotional products. “It’s important,” Nick says, “to have a personal/professional network in the industry and to use that to speak up.” – CR