Are you sure?

Fellowes: A 100-year-old brandʼs route from movies to ergonomics

Although business machines and workplace management products manufacturer Fellowes has only been present on the Hungarian market for six years, the brand is actually 100 years old this year. 

László Kreutz, managing director.

Hungarians have long known the brand from American movies, even if we have not consciously so; when somebody is fired or quits their job and packs their office stuff into a box, the chances are strong that what you will see is the iconic Bankers Box of Fellowes.

The firm was launched during World War 1, when Harry L. Fellowes purchased the business from an acquaintance who was conscripted for USD 50. The business is now under the control of the fourth generation of the Fellows family and is currently present in 15 countries through subsidiaries. We spoke to managing director László Kreutz about the Hungarian operation.

The company’s presence in Hungary is relatively recent, but it appears that introducing an almost century old firm to the market turned out to be valid. How so?

I could say that it is better later than never; a huge American brand has arrived in the country. Probably in Hungary, especially because it is a B2B brand, it is not yet a very well-known name, such as Whirlpool, or Kodak, although Fellows is on the same level. I believe that the difference between old and big brands and old and big brands that still exist can be encapsulated in one single word: Innovation. Those who were not able to keep up with the passage of time, or even more so, to process the demands, fall into the category of history, while those who are among the leaders today can thank their position to eternal renewing. This is what Fellowes is like, and this is also the answer to the question: how did the introduction of the firm to the Hungarian market turn out to be valid?

Give us a showcase of the innovations that have appeared in the past 100 years via Fellowes.

As was mentioned in the introduction, the iconic Bankers Box helped to lay the foundation for storing documents. This product, which is known by patriotic Americans as the Liberty Box, is still the symbol for storing documents overseas. Naturally, this product has gone through several improvements with the passage of time and a complex system of archiving and storing documents has been built around the concept. Another huge division of ours launched in the 1980s and ’90s is data security, for which a determining product of ours is manufacturing and selling paper shredders. This is one of the main areas to exploit nowadays, as we see that possessing information is power and sensitive information getting into the hands of incompetent people can lead to great damages being caused through the abuse of such information. An innovation of Fellowes, later adopted by our competitors, is its ‘jam proof’ technology which prevents the paper from getting stuck when shredded. Or safety functions that practically block the device immediately if a hand comes close to the shredding gap. But I could also mention Silentshred technology, which makes the device efficient for use in today’s open offices without bothering others around. Another advantage of our machines that they also shred paperclips, staples and CDs.

Arriving at the present day, what other innovative solutions could you mention in the field of office furniture?

Office ergonomics is becoming a more important part of our portfolio. This is a sensitive area, because here we are talking about big stakes, as we are talking about our health. We are spending more time by sitting at our desks, and sitting above our computers at home with arched backs. We lead a more sedentary lifestyle than 20 or 30 years ago, which triggers serious health consequences. It does matter, therefore, in what kind of office environment we work in, or whether our workstation hides the causes of health issues or serves in retaining our health. We have established so-called “danger-zones” and we developed devices for these, such as wrist rests and foot rests. Our latest sit and stand devices can be used to transform office desks into sitting or standing workstations, which make it possible to swap between standing and sitting at our office desk while working. This is another state-of-the-art solution from us for everyday life that has a positive effect on the life of people who get in touch with Fellowes. This is what our continuous innovation is aimed at.