By on November 10, 2015

Shots was founded in 1995 by Oscar Heijnen and has it’s HQ in Beneden Leeuwen, Netherlands with 43 staff. &

Oscar, tell us about the early days for yourself in the Netherlands, how and when did you start?
When my eldest brother, who I was working for at the time, sold his company, I started Shots Video back in 1995. The complete line-up of Shots Video consisted of only five licensed video movies from an American production company. My office was located in a spare bedroom and the “logistic centre” was in the hallway of my tiny house. I was president, CEO, sale representative, accountant and logistic manager all at the same time. It was good fun back then and it’s even more fun at this very moment!

What was it like back then, the market, what countries were you selling to?
In the early beginnings we only sold to the Dutch market, followed by Belgium, Germany and later on every single country in Europe with the rest of the world to follow. At the time we were only selling VHS-tapes, so it was a completely different business model from what we have today. The profit margins were great and we sold to sex shops, video rental stores and big cd shop chains. It was a huge market and it was very easy to sell big volumes of tapes.

What were some of your best selling items?
Shortly after the start-up of the company we contacted several Dutch production companies to produce porn movies in our own language. The name of the label was appropriately called Holland Video and I vividly remember that one of the scenes from our first film was shot on a ferris wheel, during the famous fair in the city of Tilburg!

How has the European market in terms of distribution and retail evolved?
A lot of things have changed. Most of the bigger European companies from the early days have disappeared with just a few left. For Shots the business has evolved from VHS to CD-ROM, from CD-ROM to DVD and then from DVD to Adult toys and Gadgets. I think I can state that we are the only large video production company that has successfully transformed into a sex toy manufacturing and sales company. At present we are still growing by aquiring a lingerie company, a lube production company and getting a finger in the pie of the American market by founding Shots America LLC. Our unique assortment is constantly growing thanks to the efforts of our own in-house design team and we are becoming more competitive every day!

Are there any country specific trends in Europe or are some countries more receptive to certain product categories over others?
Europe, or as we call it, the European Union, is becoming more or less one big country. Most of our products sell everywhere but in some parts of the EU the average income is a little lower than the rest. As most of our products come in the mid-price range we have seen a large increase in sales in most of the countries and especially in these parts. The only country that has gone down is of course Russia, as the value of the Russian Ruble against the Euro and US Dollar has dropped significantly.

What is the current status of DVD sales in Europe and how much longer and in what channels are they selling? What style or type of movie is selling well? Have there been any changes over the years?
The DVD sales take up only 7% of the company turnover. If you look at a big city like Amsterdam where more than 25% of the countries sex shops are based, only two or three of them still have a large assortment of DVD’s. I think we are in the final stage before the DVD will disappear from the European market altogether.
You are now a distributor and also a manufacturer/supplier. What was the catalyst to make you move into manufacturing?

We have started as a manufacturer back in 2007 with our own designs. With the brand Touché we have stormed the market and it was, and still is, very successful in Australia. Shortly after that we noticed that our competition was not fulfilling their orders as good as they used to and we started to take care of them for a very valuable customer of ours, just as a service. The distribution side of our company has grown into one of the biggest in Europe and we are now stocking more than 15.000 different products that we ship the same day all over Europe and the rest of the world.

For the North and South Americas we only offer our own assortment that now consists of more than 2.000 different products, as we will follow a different business model over there compared to the rest of the world.

What brands/product categories are you now manufacturing and how did you select these?
Shots is now manufacturing 11 different brands with another 3 new brands in the pipeline, which are being released before the end of the year. Our selection procedure is nothing like what other American manufacturers do. We are totally different and design all of our products ourselves! We have a 7 designers working fulltime on new developments and we own the moulds and designs outright. These facts make us stand out in the market place! Shots now owns close to a thousand different moulds and apart from being unique the designs of our packaging are very high-end, eye-catching and multi-lingual! All of this puts our products ahead of other competing products plus our price-quality level is unbeatable.

What are some of your best sellers and what makes a product a ‘best seller’.
A “best seller” is a product that either stands out by volume sales or turnover, or both. Our best selling brands are Shots Toys and Ouch! These two provide the biggest volume in sales and turnover. Apart from those there are some new brands, which have become very strong sellers, like Real Rock, Love Line, Boom and Bad Romance.

Tell us about your staff resources, how many do you have now, and in what sectors? How have staff resources changed for you over the years and the technology involved in selling?

In Europe we employ 7 designers, 6 sales managers, 3 accountants, 3 IT-specialists, 2 data entry/checks professionals and 15 co-workers in logistics. In the USA we have at the moment 1 CEO, 2 sales managers, 1 accountant and 3 logistic co-workers. It all has been a growing curve and of course technology and automation have played an important role in the growth of the company. All the software we use, offline as well as online, has been developed in-house. That makes us who we are today and because I like to change things quickly around it’s good to have them under control every step of the way. For this reason we want to have our own systems, making us independent from external software companies.

Tell us about your newly expanded warehouse facility in the Netherlands.
We have just completed works on our new order-picking warehouse and we are now in the process of planning to build a new bulk warehouse, which will give us an extra capacity of 2500 pallets in storage. This new building will also have room to accommodate and expand our own lubricant production company Pharmquests. And there will also be room for any future acquisitions or new companies.

You’ve now moved into the USA and secured Ruben Deitz, formerly Pipedream VP and Operations Manager. What can you tell us about Shots’ American plans?
It was and still is my belief that for Shots to become a true international powerhouse, it was necessary to develop a strong presence in the United States. In my perception, the only way to expand into this market was to open a state-of-the-art sales and distribution centre with offices, a showroom and a large, fully stocked warehouse. Ready to provide a one-of-a-kind customer experience!

Ruben Deitz, our CEO at Shots America, was the key figure for me! Without his knowledge and experience I would have never dared to take such a huge step like this, on my own. I am really honoured that he chose Shots over many other opportunities that were on offer when he decided to leave Pipedream. Our cooperation feels so natural like we are family and that we have known each other for decades.

Ruben- what is your first priority and then what tasks will you be engaging in, in the first 12 months?
As a CEO I would like to:
. Encourage smart growth, without being too conservative.
. Create a communicative atmosphere to motivate innovation.
. Delight our customers with superior customer service, which will reflect in everything we do from purchasing through to distribution.
. Improve my understanding of our industry and our competitors.
. Expand the understanding of the business outside of my comfort zone.
. Get closer to our customers and find out what their needs and values are.
In order for Shots America to succeed in the Canadian, USA and Latin American market, we need to be a very efficient, smart and lean company. To do so, we have to develop unique and innovative products with attractive packaging and reasonable prices. Also, it is my intention to continue to lead by example by coming to work with a smile on my face and an open mind believing that anything is possible.

What can you tell us about your new premises and team?
It is a brand new, state-of-the-art warehouse and office facility of 30,000 square feet (2.800 square metres) in Santa Clarita, California. This marks the first time that a pleasure product manufacturer has a major distribution centre in two continents. Shots is one of the most innovative and largest manufacturers in Europe due to their creative design team with 20 years of market experience and a constant desire to be different. Under the watchful eye of Oscar Heijnen and his team the company has already achieved great success!

What range of products will you be stocking?
Shots America will stock the complete Shots assortment that holds around 2,000 different SKU’s. All products can be seen via or via

Where do you want Shots America to be in 5 years from now?
I hope that Shots America will grow to the same level as Shots Europe, or even bigger! Let’s wait and see as 5 years is quite a lot of time, and I am taking it step by step.

Shots America LLC, 26420 Summit Circle, Santa Clarita, CA 91350
Telephone: (661) 222-7855
E-mail: Website:
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Shots BV Europe, Veesteeg 12, NL-6658 KP, Beneden Leeuwen, The Netherlands
Telephone: +31 (0) 487 519 333
E-mail: Website:

A Synergy interview with Oscar Heijnen and Ruben Deitz

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