A family business in a globalised world

Wednesday, 24 January, 2024 Food From Poland 42/2024
The term “Family business”, especially in a highly globalised market, is often associated with a small business with a rather local potential. This perception is not always correct. There are organisations that, despite revenues running into billions of zlotys, an extensive portfolio of recognisable brands and the employment of thousands of employees, escape the stereotype of a “cold corporation”. The MOKATE Group, which we are talking about here, bases its strength on a commitment to values that have been close to its founders for four generations.
We talk with the CEO of the MOKATE Group, Dr Adam Mokrysz, and his wife, CEO Dr Katarzyna Mokrysz, about the phenomenon of a company with over 100 years of tradition, whose brands are now present and well-known in over 75 countries around the world.

A few years ago, you decided to add “Family business” to the company name. To ask somewhat perversely: is this still a value worth emphasising in the 21st century?

Adam Mokrysz: Definitely yes! We consciously emphasise the fact that we are a company with a multi-generational tradition. To be more precise, it is being built by the fourth generation of the Mokrysz family.

The scale on which we operate has changed – after all, it is difficult to compare a colonial shop run by my great-grandparents to a huge conglomerate of companies operating in over 75 countries around the world. What has not changed, however, is our approach to MOKATE. It is not “some” business that we manage. It is a living organism that we have been building together with our entire team for generations. An organisation that we develop with love, enthusiasm and true passion.

Katarzyna Mokrysz: Being a family business is our greatest strength. We combine global thinking and innovation with a teamwork ethos. We have a group of professionals who, in addition to being great professionals, have a great deal of passion and are genuinely committed to the development of MOKATE. We work in a “creative” climate that makes us achieve an increasingly strong position in the international market.

What exactly do you mean by a teamwork ethos? 

A.M.: We invariably put people first. Although it may sound like a truism, we are constantly proving that acting in a family spirit and working together pays off. 

Employees are not just another “number” for us. We do not create complicated, bureaucratic and endlessly drawn-out procedures where they are unnecessary. By shortening the distance in relationships, we simultaneously optimise costs and build a unique organisational culture. One that simply “works”.

We take an equally “humane” approach to our business partners and this also gives us a competitive advantage. Honest, partnership relationships over the years allow us to achieve more.

K.M.: The multi-generational and family-oriented nature of MOKATE is our advantage! We are also a well-known and valued employer. We have whole families in our team, and even from two to three generations! We know and like each other very well. This makes for not only understanding, respect or hunger for success in the team but also “chemistry”. 

It is the driving force in which we find the energy to fight in an increasingly competitive and globalised market. This is particularly important in times of increasing uncertainty and unpredictability in the world around us. Thanks to this solid “base”, we can take bold steps – so that we can continually adapt to changes in the world and thus in the market.

It is for this courage, among others, that you have been awarded the BrandME CEO award.

A.M.: Indeed, recent years have been challenging for us. The post-Covid reality, with its increasing global conflict, has posed increasingly serious challenges for business and especially the FMCG world. Added to this is the development of new technologies and competition that is by no means sleeping.

However, we understand that in order to grow, changes have to be made. Sometimes difficult ones and ones that seem breakneck. The optimisation of operational processes, the automation of production lines, the implementation of innovations... Success would not be possible if it were not for the solid foundations of our group: the 200% commitment of the entire team, the good values and the belief that we can do even more.

K.M.: A globalised market also requires a fresh look at the product portfolio. For us, this is an opportunity for geographical diversification. We took advantage of it and today we operate not only in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia but also in the UK, South Africa and Dubai. Success in more than 75 countries around the world has been possible because we are open to working with many cultures, so different from each other, and we know how to adapt our products to the expectations of customers in different markets. Courage is in our DNA.

Courage also involves risk. Is it possible to escape from it?

K.M.: In order to grow, you have to go beyond your comfort zone. With the knowledge that not every project will be successful but all of them will allow learning lessons for the future. Running a business means constantly learning, broadening your horizons and taking risks. 

A.M.: Taking risks in business is a bit like playing chess. You have to think long-term, several moves ahead. And to know that sometimes you have to make a gambit: sacrifice something, suffer a few defeats, learn from them and pick yourself up to eventually win. 

Chess is an important theme for MOKATE. Why?

A.M.: Chess is one of the most fascinating games that has united people all over the world for thousands of years. It is universal and allows you to “catch the thread of understanding” regardless of the cultural context or place on the map. Chess teaches strategic thinking, systematic work on oneself, patience and consistency in action. These are skills that come in handy every day, not only in business. It is our family’s passion.

MOKATE is actively involved in popularising chess in Poland. We are an active partner of the Polish Chess Federation and together with it we are implementing the project “Education through chess in schools”. Thanks to this project, students in more than 1,500 schools in Poland already have the opportunity to catch the chess bug during lessons. In the Silesian Voivodeship, classes are already available in every 2nd school.

K.M.: Chess brings generations together and allows us to build bonds, while also providing a lot of positive emotions. That is why we are happy to inspire young and old to play while supporting our local community. In August 2023, the 4th Chess Festival in Ustroń was held under the patronage of MOKATE, which attracted around 1,000 participants from all over Poland. We also invite chess masters and grandmasters to this event – we have hosted, among others, Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and, more recently, Vasily Ivanchuk. We have not yet said the last word in this area.

What does the future hold for MOKATE?

A.M.: We are operating on a long-term basis and with a focus on continuous development, on a global scale. Already, around 80% of our products are exported and are present in more than 75 countries around the world. So we are well on the way to one day – in line with our vision – becoming one of the 10 largest producers of hot drinks in the world.

K.M.: We are expanding the group of customers for our products, business partners as well as our product portfolio. MOKATE is already going beyond the well-known coffee and tea market. We can also mention the brand of healthy snacks, Dobra Kaloria (Good Calorie), which was created through the cooperation of the Mokrysz and Kubara families, or the investment in plant-based meat substitutes. We keep a close eye on changes in the world and look for new products that our customers will love as much as the ones they have known and enjoyed for years. And most importantly, we do not forget the values that have made us where we are today. No matter what, the MOKATE family is the most important to us.

Thank you
Monika Górka

tagi: MOKATE Group , food market , sales , trade , consumer , FMCG , wholesale , retail , food products , news , new products , food industry , retail chains , grocery stores , Poland ,