Poland is the leading manufacturer of poultry meat in the European Union. This success is achieved thanks to companies such as Res-Drob from Rzeszów.
Since the very beginning of his work, Marek Jurkiewicz, the company’s CEO, have had a clear vision: we have to specialize in production and concentrate on exports. He graduated from Western Universities – based in Oxford and Manchester – and thus he decided to derive his inspiration from the West. At present he openly states that it was his first fair in Paris that opened his eyes, although later he drew not only French, but also German and American examples. He traced the actions of the biggest Argentinian and Brazilian companies too. This attitude allowed the company to generate half of its revenues in foreign markets.
The history of Res-Drob goes back to the 50s. Today’s buoyant and successful company was founded on the ruins of communist Poland’s district storehouse of eggs and poultry meat, which after several changes of the business name was finally transformed into Poultry Processing Plant in Rzeszów in the 70s. The modernisation of the plant in the 90s did not prevent its liquidation, which was announced in 2000. The plant was purchased by parents of the current CEO. It was the beginning of the story, which is still being written till today. — The company did not have any export licences. Transitional period was several years long. During this time the company aligned the plant with the requirements of the European Union. We succeeded and in 2005 we obtained a certificate allowing us to trade with the European Union — recalls Marek Jurkiewicz. Previously unavailable markets were at the touch of a palm, and the company started to use its previous name — Rzeszowskie Zakłady Drobiarskie Res-Drob. Since then, the company has grown 25 times. The success was achieved gradually. Marek Jurkiewicz did not miss any fair. He participated in every event where poultry processing industry could be noticed. And everything remains unchanged until the present day. — We were one of the first companies in the sector to participate in an international fair. Since the very beginning, we have focused on marketing activities in all events offering a chance for return on investment. It produces results — assures the President of Res-Drob, who has recently come back from Vietfood & Beverage fair held in Vietnam.
At present the company is already a specialized plant. It concentrates on two segments: fresh meat with the shelf life of 15 days, and frozen meat which may be stored even up to 18 months. The best quality meat, which in the opinion of Marek Jurkiewicz is the key to success, is exported to France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and other more exotic countries, such as: Vietnam, Hong Kong and to Central African countries. Each country is treated on a case by case basis, as they have various requirements. The first steps were naturally taken towards Ukraine. With the wisdom of hindsight we now know that it was not the best idea. Customers were not loyal, demand was fluctuating, and each company has to ensure the continuity of sales. The following business partners were verified thoroughly.
— At present, we already know that you have to learn about the peculiarities of a given market, as things that sell well in Poland, do not necessarily sell well abroad. The product specification is also of vital importance — each country may lay down slightly different specification. Understanding the meaning of particular terms used in the industry is also important — explains the Res-Drob’s CEO and recalls a misunderstanding which resulted from the differences in specifications.
— We had an order for bone-in chicken breast. And we sent it... It turned out, however, that for the customer the bone-in breast included also the sacrum bone. With the hindsight now we know the importance of understanding our customers’ expectations — says Marek Jurkiewicz. He highlights that in certain situations there is always room for discussion, but first you have to know what is the purpose of the piece of meat you deliver.
— It is highly important to learn about the mentality and outlook of your customers. The way of doing business in Great Britain is much different than in Eastern countries or African countries. Not to mention the knowledge of languages and communication skills. It is obvious that, for instance, it is better to delegate a man instead of a woman to hold a business meeting in Muslin countries — adds Marek Jurkiewicz.
He advises that the acquisition of new customers should start with thorough market research and finding about the use of products. Still, later you need years of experience to perfectly align with the requirements of your business partners.
— And these requirements are very different, especially in the case of chicken meat. For instance, the export to Western Europe constitutes mainly boneless chicken breast and drumsticks. In Vietnam people prefer to buy chicken wings and legs. Orders from African countries include chicken wings and carcasses – less nutrient and cheaper. It does not have to mean a poorer standard — highlights Marek Jurkiewicz. Food companies see not only the importance of the way the products are stored, but also the way they are transported.
— Fresh poultry meat leaves the plant at the temperature of 4 degrees Celsius and this temperature must be maintained throughout transportation. It is always monitored — highlights Marek Jurkiewicz.
Countries have their own peculiarities and so do the customers. Before entering into commercial negotiations, it is worth to run a check on each and every prospect recipient, also in terms of their creditworthiness, and receivable and trade finance insurance.
— The check on business partners is not expensive, and it provides the sense of comport and confidence — says the President of Res-Drob. Confidence is build up also on long-term action plans and reliable team you can always count on. — Our company employs people of all ages. We support each other. Our success also depends on our suppliers — highlights Marek Jurkiewicz.
Res-Drob has 190 suppliers. More than half of them has been cooperating with us for years, sometimes over generations — chickens used to be farmed by their parents and now the farms are taken over by the children. There is only one thing that is changing — chicken sheds are more and more modern, better equipped, automated and frequently have smart ventilation and heating systems.
— Our success is also the success of the chicken breeders who are our suppliers. An important role in the company operations is the support of financial institutions which know and understand our business — adds Marek Jurkiewicz.
The fact that we have achieved success does not mean that Res-Drob is going to sit back. We have already commenced the research on Chinese, Malaysian and South African markets. We hold talks with customers from the U.S. interested in high-quality chicken wings at a good price. There is so much more to achieve.
Res-Drob is an example of a company which was transformed from an enterprise established and managed for years in centrally planned economy into a buoyant business achieving success both in Poland and internationally, and winning prestigious awards. Currently, Res-Drob is a modern poultry processing plant which skilfully combines the 60 years of experience with the state-of-the-art technology and management solutions, while securing the high quality of products and good relationships with breeders. This attitude enables the company to enjoy recognition among Polish consumers and business partners including the biggest Polish and foreign chains. The ambitions of Res-Drob go beyond the boundaries of Poland. The company successfully implements the strategy of international expansion by exporting meat to European, Asian and African markets. It has many achievements, but it is not going to rest on its laurels – it is constantly growing and developing. Over the last few years, there were many investments aimed at streamlining the processing plant, but the company has not had its final say in this respect. The owner, assisted by experienced advisors, continuously seeks new solutions to make the processing and the entire organisation more effective. He particularly focuses on creating a supply chain, which, on the one hand, ensures uninterrupted deliveries to the company, and on the other hand, gives the sense of stability and certainty to Res-Drob’s suppliers, including breeders cooperating with it for more than 30 years. The company follows market trends on a daily basis and aligns its product offer with the needs of consumers, and analyses opportunities to expand in new sales markets. Consumers both in Poland and abroad give closer attention to products they eat – thanks to high quality standards applied at Res-Drob, the company is buoyant and meets the requirements of the most demanding customers.
Senior Relationship Manager, HSBC Bank Polska S.A.