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INDUSTRY PROFILE

ic! berlin
Exporting German Innovation and Inspiration

EyeCare Professional�s Paul DiGiovanni, LDO, speaking with Ralph Anderl, President, ic! berlin.


Ralph Anderl

Please provide our readers with the background and history of 
ic! berlin.

The ic! berlin company was founded at the very end of the last century by three guys without any idea about business and eyewear, which strangely turned out to be the best conditions to start an eyewear company in Berlin. On the other hand, we learned fast and won the "Golden Silmo" award in Paris in 1998, the key for entering the world of eyeglasses.

We started out in our living rooms, and now we employ around 150 people all over the world. The heart of our product is still the patented unique screwless hinge system, which makes the glasses extremely strong and durable. On the other hand, the frames are still very lightweight. Last but not least, they are beautiful. We make glasses for businessmen, doctors, famous actors, and sometimes even for eccentric freaks!

What is the company�s mission statement?
ic! berlin is a culture company. We did not start the story to become billionaires. ic! berlin produces glasses as well as creating a new culture of business. We produce everything by hand in our own manufacturing facility in the heart of Berlin, rather than in big factories in China. We start the week each Monday with a choir; the singing provides a fresh and positive start for the week. Our office, situated in an old industrial bakery, is a mixture of open space, art, lounge and German engineering style machinery. We invite all our customers to come and experience it with their own eyes. We offer specific tours for tourists through our company. Visitors can mount their own glasses, see how we work, enjoy the beautiful view from our rooftop terrace and check out our art collection as well!

What are ic! berlin�s key markets?
Of course we focus on Europe, America, and Asia, but my hometown in Oldenburg, Germany is still very important as well.

In the next 1-3 years, what growth potential do you see for ECPs in the U.S.?
I see a growth potential of 93% within eleven months. And perhaps a little bit more from the end of 2013 onwards. For 2014-2015, I predict less extreme, but still strong growth of approximately 53.46%.

Describe the unique technology used in manufacturing ic! berlin�s frame line.
We use an extremely strong and flexible stainless steel for our glasses, so that the metal can be relatively thin, which makes the frame very lightweight. The glasses are just banded; we do not use glue or screws. It is all about simplicity. Customers can understand our product in a way that is not too complex. This makes our glasses very futuristic, because that's what products are going be about in the future. At the end the glasses are very sustainable because of this.

As I mentioned before, it is not our goal to become billionaires from producing cheap, readymade products. That is why we constantly in-source, rather than out-source. If there is a production step that could make us more efficient, we invest our profits into new manpower and machinery, to ensure that the quality is always high.

Please provide an overview of your ophthalmic and sunglass lines.
Since we�re not about chasing any trends that are out there, our collection is based on shapes that just fit, rather than styles that are �en vogue� at the moment and forgotten three months later. We have a great mixture of sheet-metal prescriptions and sunglasses as well as acetate models. Style wise it would be the best to check out our web page at www.ic-berlin.de

What are your target markets?
Our target markets are: India, Brazil, Congo, Iceland, Norway, Tibet.

Please describe the POP available to ECPs.
ECPs are our primary customer, that is why we offer them a variety of banners displays and gadgets to turn the point of sale into an ic! berlin shop. Currently, we are working on an airline trolley as a display and glasses storage. If there is any crazy idea though, for a trunk show maybe, we�re always open for suggestions, as long as it�s unique.

Do the frames come with a warranty?
Yes, if the metal breaks, I change the glasses for free. Everything else is covered by warranty for one year in the U.S.

What differentiates your frame line from your competitors? Please explain why you feel a frame buyer should choose your line over another line in this highly competitive market.
If you buy an ic! berlin frame, you get a very lightweight, comfortable, strong and beautiful piece of art. You feel the remarkable quality day by day. If you have a question, you can directly call me on my mobile phone. You can find my number lasered inside each frame: questions? call ralph +49 (0)177 240 9 150.

I guess there is no other company where you can get this service. In addition to that, a pair of glasses is always an invitation to come visit our factory in Berlin! You should really check that out! Our company was born in Berlin, our frames are handcrafted in Berlin and even our whole company culture is deeply rooted in the city.

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