25 years in the sector: And a clear growth ambition for the future
With a turnover of nearly 400 million Norwegian kroner (NOK) and talented employees who actively represent Lexit Group, the company's future prospects look bright. “We have the wind in our sales and we are in a position we intend to maintain,” says founder Kai Gunnar Herseth.
Strekkodesystemer was created in 1993. Back then the company had two employees and a turnover of NOK 3.9 million. Today, Lexit Group has 120 employees in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and a turnover of NOK 390 million at Group level.
“The reason for the formidable growth is our extensive expertise and skilled employees who master their field incredibly well. We have positioned ourselves in all of our areas, which include labels, labelling machines, data capture, Point of Sales (POS), service, software and consulting services,” Herseth adds.
Founding a new company was demanding and exciting
“On our first day we did not have order books, pens or office space. But we persevered and managed to get our first customers via an open telephone line. We chose to name the company Strekkodesystemer (Barcode systems in English), which was no coincidence. Back in the 1990s, most companies wanted to use barcodes. Gradually, the time came to rename the company, and in 2001 we changed its name to Lex IT, which later became Lexit Group. The name was easy to remember and made it easy for us to switch from being a simple barcode provider to a player in several key ICT fields that today form the core of the company. In the wake of this, a network of distributors and retailers was established throughout Norway. Today, they sell our products on to their customers,” says Herseth.
Fast forward to today, where Lexit Group has grown with rocket speed. Lexit sells its products and solutions to Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
“We offer customers products that they can live with for many years to come,” says Herseth. We have made ties with well-known manufacturers and suppliers all over the world. High-quality products in combination with qualified employees has been the key to our success.”
Customised complete solutions
Lexit Group has delivered solutions to major wholesalers in the food industry, food companies, hospitals and transport companies. The company has always been big in software, and thanks to its own software department, applications can now be customised to suit customers' wishes and needs.
“The software unit now has a more central place in the business. We build knowledge about what customers need to make them more efficient with the latest in software that works optimally with our hardware,” he says.
Scandinavia's most advanced label production
Scandinavia's most advanced label production is found at the label factory in Mölnlycke. Customers can track production through Lexit Group's proprietary cloud solution.
“This gives customers a complete overview of production so that they can make the necessary changes along the way,” says Herseth. “A label isn’t just a label anymore. A label is a document about anything from allergens and barcode labelling to prices, etc. With the cloud service, customers can quickly make changes and extract the last image of the label in the production line where it is automatically placed on the right product. We simplify customers' everyday lives by providing seamless production through our cloud service. This creates a digital production flow.”
Cloud service for all software applications
Lexit Group now offers a cloud service for all of its software applications so that customers do not have to install software on their own servers.
“Customers login to our cloud service where inventory, picking, expediting and labelling are stored. Many of our customers are in the midst of a digitisation process. We offer help and support to streamline operations through modern data solutions. We are digitised in everything we do, all the way from the orders, invoices and picking down to production,” concludes Herseth.
DATA CAPTURE DEPARTMENT – Svein Lauritsen
Data capture includes the registration, digital storage and processing of data.
“Since 2001, this has been an important pillar for Lexit Group,” says Svein Lauritsen, Head of the department. “Strekkodesystemer only worked with barcodes, printers and labels, not with hand terminals. With my background and experience from other companies, it was important to renew the range. We went to several national and international exhibitions and created an image of the types of products we wanted to invest in. One of Norway’s largest grocery stores, still our biggest customer to date, was looking for new hand and truck terminals for their warehouses throughout Norway. Deliveries to this customer were the starting point for our data capture division that was established in Kløfta 17 years ago.
We have innovative and forward leaning employees who know their systems and solutions inside out. The detailed knowledge our employees have about hardware products benefits our customers.”
Customers value our knowledge
Customers attach great importance to the expertise available within the Data capture department.
“An important reason why people choose us as a supplier is that we have solid skills and can tailor products to customers’ businesses. We offer customers more choices and are solution and product oriented,” says Lauritsen.
“We have specialists in retail, data capture, handheld terminals, RFID etc., which helps customers make the right choice. The future is bright for the department. We are outperforming expectations and achieve good results that will benefit the entire Lexit Group. We believe that small and large customers are equally important.”
LABEL DEPARTMENT – Jostein Sæter
The Labelling department was established in 1997 and has enjoyed fantastic growth since then.
“Up until 2004, we sold labels to customers from other printing companies. Then we chose to start our own printing company in Frölunda (Göteborg). In 2008, Lexit Group built a brand new 3,500 m2 label factory in Mölnlycke (Göteborg), which was expanded by an additional 3,500 m2 in October 2017. The factory in Sweden has 55 employees who only work with labels. With the new Digital Flexo printing technology, we get more from each printing press so that set-up times can be reduced to a minimum. Digital Flexo takes a short amount of time to set-up and offers high print quality labels,” says Jostein Sæter, Head of the Label department.
“Our department has the closest contact with customers. Our goal is to create added value for all of the business areas within Lexit Group, all the way from machine sales and software solutions to labels. This will give us greater control over the customer's choice of systems and solutions. Our labels provide great value to our customers because we carefully inspect all digital label originals.”
Technology adapted to customer’s needs
“Six years ago, we laid the foundations for a dedicated design and online centre operated as a cloud service. Here customers can order and approve label originals and have access to them around the clock. For us, getting a full overview of all of the customer variants is a big boost. Previously, we had to manually scroll through files before repro and design. We don’t need to do this anymore as label management is now digitalised. The customer can send us an Excel document, containing for example 500 strawberry varieties. When we get the Excel sheet, all templates are prepared. We retrieve the parameters which need changing and modify the original. Overnight we run 300-400 proofs that the customer accepts without any employee touching them physically. Other customers may have introduced a new storage solution located in the cloud where they can scan and print labels. Here, the sales staff can enter the customer's warehouse and see how many labels they have left, get order suggestions and send them on to the customer. For example, if the label stock is running out, we let the customer know that they should order new labels. All of the steps take place automatically. If a customer enters an order proposal, it goes straight into our production system located in the cloud. This gives customers a full overview of the status of label production. We are at the forefront of development, incorporating new technology adapted to customer needs, streamlining production and lowering costs for the customer,” says Sæter.
LABELING DEPARTMENT – Per Kristian Myklebust
Most of the deliveries go to the food industry
Per Kristian Myklebust, who is Head of the Industry department, has worked for the company since it was established in 1993.
“The Industry department has been a major supplier to the food industry, mainly meat producers. During the start-up phase, we started selling to small local producers, but as Lexit Group expanded, we also started working with the major leading manufacturers we collaborate with today. We have completed thousands of installations so far,” says Myklebust.
A flying start for the Industry department
In 1993, Strekkodesystemer mainly sold label printers, labels and scanners. As the business grew, larger machines became part of the product portfolio.
“In the first year, the turnover was NOK 3.9 million. That says something about the rapid development we have seen and continue to see today,” says Myklebust.
“We are clearly the biggest on the market in our niche. The machines are hardwearing and have a long service life, which makes them attractive. Our product portfolio includes printers, scales, weighing machines, X-ray detectors and metal detectors. Today’s customers demand complete solutions, which we can offer as a turnkey supplier. We provide everything from project management, software connections and installations to the design of labels, training/courses and last but not least service and support. We work closely with the Software and Labelling departments as well as the technicians from the Service and support department. This is absolutely necessary in order to deliver quality at all stages. Both now and in the future, Norwegian industry will continue its automation process to increase its competitiveness. The Industry department is well equipped for this development,” concludes Myklebust.
SOFTWARE DEPARTMENT v/Mikael Thorsgaard
We are different to the major hardware suppliers
The Software department has been an important part of Lexit Group since its creation in 1993, but became its own department only three years ago when it was decided to invest more in this area.
“Today we have ten developers, two sellers and four technicians,” says Mikael Thorsgaard, Head of the department. With the Software department, we distinguish ourselves from the main hardware suppliers on the market. We offer both hardware and proprietary software, enabling us to meet market demands. We adapt our own software to our customer’s needs. Our customers have different business strategies and operate in different markets. Delivering a stock solution to the food industry or the clothing industry requires a high level of flexibility. The advantage of us developing our own software solutions is that the step between customer requests and finished setup is shorter. We own the software and do not need to go through major software companies to perform customisations.”
New platform for Android and Apple devices
“Over the past five years, we have gone from a Windows Mobile platform to a new platform for Android and Apple. This has opened new markets for us. Customers who don’t want to buy hardware, and would rather use their own smartphone or tablet, can choose to buy the software only. It's now possible for them to use their own iPhone or Android smartphone to perform transactions with our app. Instead of investing in a handheld terminal, customers are now offered applications that are connected to their own equipment, to which external devices such as barcode scanners and label printers can be added. This saves customers a lot of investment costs and makes their day to day life more efficient,” says Thorsgaard.
Steady growth and more connected clients
The Software department is growing steadily with more connected clients and an increasing number of customers.
“Since the start three years ago, we have seen over 30 per cent growth a year. Everything indicates that growth will be as good in 2018. The Software department thus contributes significantly to Lexit Group’s overall business operations,” says Thorsgaard.
SERVICE AND SUPPORT DEPARTMENT – Lasse Eriksen
An important pillar
The Service and support department has always been an important part of Lexit Group.
“For customers, it is important to have a reliable partner with good product knowledge and high delivery precision,” says CEO Lasse Eriksen. “We have always had a strong service base. Over the past two years, we have certified the technologies in our entire product portfolio from our suppliers. This enables us to quickly repair defective equipment in-house.”
The business’s engine
The Service and Maintenance department in Kløfta is the engine of Lexit Group's operations.
“The department is an important gear that must work if the machinery is to keep turning. But all of the company’s functions are equally important and must keep pace with each other,” says Eriksen. Furthermore, he explains that Lexit Group has now expanded the entire first floor to house a Technical department.
“This makes us better equipped to undertake bigger customer assignments and complete their products. More and more of our customers value this.”
Proprietary support system
The Service department currently has 17 employees and the assignments are managed in a proprietary support system.
“Thanks to advanced tools and equipment, we can serve our customers quickly and efficiently so as not to affect their daily production. We also have the ability to control parts of the repair assignments remotely so that travel time to the customer is reduced to a minimum. Working smartly has given us increased capacity to undertake more service and maintenance assignments. Our service and support function creates security for customers. We have sales staff with high technical insight and highly-competent technicians capable of solving all the situations they face.”
TEXT: Trond Schieldrop / PHOTO: Trond Schieldrop, PackMarknaden, Lexit Group