Adam Mokrysz: I learn from the past, but look only ahead

On January 1 it will be four years since you became CEO of the Mokate Group. What does it mean in practice to run a family business with the traditions Mokate can boast of?

Knowing that my family has been developing the business of the Mokate Group for dozens of years places huge obligation on me. I am proud to take up this obligation and highly motivated to achieve future goals.  Despite having well-known brands in our portfolio and our position on the market getting stronger, there are quite a few of them. 

Development strategy of Adam Mokrysz’s company is...?

It’s the path of evolution and consistent build-up of the company goodwill to increase the scale of the business and maintain all the key values of the company all the while. I realise that managing the Mokate Group is a great responsibility for its future, development, safety of the people who form it with us. I have always said that those wonderful people are our greatest value and assets.

How did you start your work at the company?

In the Mokrysz family you take up simple tasks from the early years to gradually learn the more difficult ones and improve your skills. Following this principle and the will to learn the family business as best as I could, I started my work at Mokate as a rank-and-file employee as clerk in the finance department. Later, step by step, I took up more and more important posts in the marketing and export departments. Thanks to this today I perfectly realise the direction in which I want to steer and develop the company. The key to development is foreign expansion which I’ve been dealing with for years and which allows us to reach many summits and business goals.

Right, export is very important for Mokate. In 2017 it accounted for 60% of your sales. How much is it now?

This percentage rises every year. But it needs to be noted that, at the same time, we focus on strong development of sales and our brands on the domestic market. The diversification of commercial channels and directions allows us for stable and safe development.

Another source of your strength lies in your brands. Mokate is one of the few Polish food industry companies whose brand products are at the top of the best-selling products in nearly all categories in Central and Eastern Europe.

Many Polish food industry companies founded, like Mokate, at the beginning of the 1990s focused at that time more on production than on brands. Mokate did it differently – we knew and understood that the market and its needs change really fast. We could anticipate what was to come. Thanks to this approach, today our portfolio is filled with strong brands that are well-known both in Poland and in Europe. Note that the fight for the customer is now largely won by “marketing companies” which understand the needs of the consumers, have their own brand and know how to advertise. These factors must, of course, be followed by high quality of products and excellent knowledge of the market in which they operate.

Building up a brand is a titanic effort?

Yes, but I think that the hardest part is not only to build it up, but also the following steps, that is to maintain and further develop the brand. As a family, we say that the brands are our children. The company is worth what the brands are worth.
Developed export is a guarantee for success?

Only the brand products matter – tasty, interesting, innovative and high quality. But, at the same time, there is the perfect alignment to the expectations of consumers in a given country. At Mokate, we have been developing export with the local personnel for years, because no one knows the tastes and habits of consumers as well as their fellow countryman. Such approach to business makes our products gain recognition in the eyes of millions of people all over the world. We are talking here about a group of about 70 countries where we successfully sell products under the LOYD or Mokade brands. 

Is there a recipe for conquering a foreign market?

There’s no single rule and recipe. It may be development through distribution and the right partner interested in joint build-up of the business. Another path for development is acquisition or establishment of representative office in the country in which we wish to build up sales. As I mentioned before, the key is international development based on the local structures.

What else matters in maintaining the company’s international position?

You need to be patient, consistent and systematic. Maintaining strong international position means investing in the market, the brand and the consumer’s awareness. Flexibility and constant analysis of markets where we are already conducting sales and which we want to enter are also very important. They help to minimise the risk related to erroneous business decisions, but also to achieve effective and dynamic development on a given market. The export itself is absolutely not the guarantee of success, it’s only one of the paths to development. You need to know how to follow this path.

Let’s go back to you. How do you cope with combining the will to implement your own ideas and run the company your own way with the previous achievements of your parents?

I draw benefits from the great wisdom and entrepreneurship of my ancestors. The gene of entrepreneurship has always been present in the Mokrysz family. It defines our course of thinking which translates into the mode of operation and makes me, as the next generation, hungry for success. One of the rules that I follow in my life says: Be PHD but not in the academic sense. It means to be poor, hungry, determined – always hungry for success, no matter what you do. Have and keep the energy of a person who is just starting to build up a business. That’s why I want to take up many actions and initiatives that will lead Mokate to the next level of development. I have great respect for tradition and what was created so far. I take up the best practices. On the other hand, I want to constantly adapt the company to modern times which are changing at a dizzying pace.

In your opinion, which practices are the most important? The most valuable?

We are building the company on the basis of such values as high ethics, respect for your partner, fair play in business or respect for another human being. Those are the values you learn in your family home. We have been nurturing them in Mokate for years, and we take great care to keep them present in our work. We are successfully building our company around them.

Both you and Mokate won many awards and commendations. What do they mean for the company, for the family?

It is a recognition of our company and its achievements. It is a tribute to the whole history of Mokate and what we, as a family, have created in the region and in the world. The company is made by people. Employees are our ambassadors with whom we develop our company on a daily basis. They are the best witnesses of the fact that the Mokate company is worthy of recognition and trust. That it is worthwhile to work with it as an employee, a contractor, a business partner or a supplier. The fact that we manage to attract to Mokate people with talent and initiative who work for us for many years is one measure of our success. 

Has the market you operate on changed in comparison to the one your parents started on? 

Yes, it has definitely changed. Today, its dynamics is much greater than 30 years ago. 

The client has also changed. 

Today they are very open to novelties and innovations. They place strong emphasis on the composition of products and their quality. It is a conscious consumer with clearly defined expectations of the products they buy. We are operating on the market of hot beverages, coffee and tea. It is a very competitive market which, for years, has been populated by the strongest brands in the world. Despite this, we have been successfully developing the Mokate brand and other brands which joined our portfolio over time. As a result, today we are one of the biggest producers of coffee and tea in this part of the world. 

And you are still able to keep the competitive edge?

Of course, but it’s a complex and multi-faceted process. 

Comprised of...

Many factors. First of all, we are listening to our consumers. We constantly take care for them to be satisfied, because the further success of the company depends on them. More often than not we exceed their needs and expectations. We are active and not reactive, which is very important. We undertake a lot of measures to involve and activate the clients, such as competitions, consumer promotional campaigns, advertising, trade marketing or image-related measures. 

You must be attractive to the client. 

And we are. In this way they will notice, appreciate and choose our product. I may admit with some satisfaction that, for years now, we have been able to successfully keep and often increase the competitive edge of the Mokate Group products. 

What about the product itself? What is its meaning in this puzzle? 

Coffee and tea, similarly to bread, belong to the so-called basic shopping basket of the Poles. Therefore, what matters are details. We have been analysing the changes in the taste preferences of consumers for years. We know which coffee and tea they want to drink, what the decisive factor in their shopping process is. This knowledge is absolutely essential, and requires large investments in market research on our part. Having this knowledge and ability to analyse it and use it in practice, you may count on achieving success in sales. The fact that the clients buy our products is the best proof and sign of recognition for our actions. The dreams form the reality and like to come true. We just have to want them to do so and be consistent in our endeavours.